Explore UAB


A series of images from the UAB Archives

Office of the Dean, School of Dentistry, 1948-

Immediate Predecessor:



Immediate Successor:


Reporting Hierarchy:

1948-1955: School of Dentistry, President of UA
1955-1958: School of Dentistry, Vice President for Health Affairs, President of UA
1958-1962: School of Dentistry, Vice President for Health Affairs, Executive Director of University Affairs for the Medical Center, President of UA
1962-1966: School of Dentistry, Vice President for Health Affairs, President of UA
1966-1968: School of Dentistry, Vice President for Birmingham Affairs, President of UA
1968-1969: School of Dentistry, Vice President for Health Affairs, Executive Vice President, President of UA
1969-1995: School of Dentistry, Vice President for Health Affairs, President of UAB
1995- : School of Dentistry, Provost, President of UAB


Joseph F. Volker, 1948-1962
(Acting) Arthur H. Wuehrmann, 1960-1961
Charles A. McCallum, Jr., 1962-1978
Leonard H. Robinson, 1978-1986
Richard R. Ranney, 1986-1989
(Acting) Victor Matukas, 1989-1990
Victor Matukas, 1990-1997
(Interim) Mary Lynne Capilouto, 1997-1998
Mary Lynne Capilouto, 1998-2003
Huw F. Thomas, 2004-2011
(Interim) Michael S. Reddy, 2011-2012
Michael S. Reddy, 2012-2018
(Interim) Michelle A. Robinson, 2018-2019
Russell S. Taichman, 2019-2023
(Interim) Nicolaas Geurs, 2023-


In order to provide for the education and preparation of dentists in the State of Alabama, the Newton Bill, Alabama Act 207, passed by the state legislature on June 27, 1945, created a dental school as a program of The University of Alabama.  Before the creation of The University of Alabama School of Dentistry, Alabamians who sought dental education were limited in their choice of programs in the South.  The Newton Act created the dental education program and, in theory, located the School in Birmingham as part of the University’s newly developing Medical Center, where a new four-year medical school had been located the previous year.  No funds for the construction of necessary facilities were appropriated by the legislature until 1946 and 1947.

In 1948, Dr. Joseph F. Volker was selected as first dean of the School of Dentistry.  Already dean at Tufts College Dental School, Dr. Volker retained his position at Tufts throughout the academic year of 1948-1949 and organized the University of Alabama School of Dentistry in 48 days in the fall of 1948.  Admissions requirements were rigid, but on October 18, 1948, 52 freshmen, all U.S. veterans, began their first day of class in designated facilities in the old Hillman Hospital building.  The new school was closely affiliated with the Medical College of Alabama, and from the beginning, importance was placed on the basic sciences.  In fact, the School of Dentistry and the Medical College of Alabama operated joint departments of basic sciences.  Created in close cooperation with the Council on Dental Education, the school was immediately accredited when the four-year program became operative.  In addition, the new dean and his staff sought to prepare every dental student for the National Board Dental Examinations.

Very soon after operations began, it was realized that new facilities were definitely needed for the dental school and for the departments of basic sciences.  With the allocation of funds from the Hill-Burton Act and from local sources, the Medical and Dental Basic Science Building and Dental Clinic was constructed and completed in 1951.  In addition to these facilities, the dental school, in cooperation with the Jefferson County Public Health Department, operated two dental trailers that provided care to students in Jefferson County public schools and a five-chair clinic at the Children's Hospital in Birmingham.  Other training programs included specialized fields such as oral surgery, orthodontics, pedodontics, periodontics, and oral medicine.  The School of Dentistry also pioneered in the Southeast refresher courses for dental practitioners.

The excellence of the school earned it an international reputation and by the mid 1950s the school boasted students from around the world.  Research also became a vital activity at the School of Dentistry, and the school received monies from a number of public and private agencies.  As its reputation increased, the school was able to attract leading dental researchers.  From July 1960 until July 1961, Dean Volker took a leave-of-absence from the school and worked in Arizona on a study of the state medical school.  During his absence, Dr. Arthur Wuehrmann served as acting dean of the School of Dentistry.

The School of Dentistry continued to grow and expand under the leadership of Dean Charles A. McCallum, Jr., who succeeded Dr. Joseph F. Volker in 1962.  Under Dr. McCallum's leadership, the School of Dentistry grew during the 1960s and 1970s and additional departments were added.  During Dean McCallum's tenure, the School also received funding for one of the first Institutes of Dental Research in the nation.  McCallum resigned the deanship in 1977 to accept the vice presidency for Health Affairs.  He would later follow in the footsteps of former Dean Volker and serve as president of the University of Alabama at Birmingham from 1987 until 1993.

Dr. Leonard H. Robinson became third dean of the University of Alabama School of Dentistry in 1977 following McCallum’s resignation.  Dean Robinson served until 1987 and was succeeded Dr. Richard Ranney.  Dean Ranney proceeded to reorganize the school and reduce the number of independent departments.  His changes were prompted by a $100,000 grant from the Pew National Dental Education Program to reorganize dental education to reflect changes in dental education and research.  Of the School’s existing 14 academic departments, Dean Ranney eliminated all but three.  He then founded three new departments to better reflect the changes in dental education.  Dean Ranney served until 1989 and was succeeded by Dr. Victor Matukas, who served first as acting dean from November 16, 1989, and later as fifth dean from January 15, 1990.

After the retirement of Dean Matukas, Dr. Mary Lynne Capilouto, a long-time faculty member and UAB alumnae, was named interim dean effective March 7, 1997.  She became the School’s sixth dean on May 13, 1998.  During Capilouto’s tenure, the school was reorganized into nine academic departments, Comprehensive Dentistry, Diagnostic Sciences, Endodontics & Pulp Biology, Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, Oral Biology, Orthodontics, Pediatric Dentistry, Periodontology, and Prosthodontics & Biomaterials.  Also during her tenure, the School of Dentistry Building was renovated to provide state-of-the-art lecture and patient treatment rooms and preclinical laboratories.  A new front entrance was also constructed in order to give the building – and the School – and more distinct appearance to the public.  Dr. Capilouto served as the dean until the end of December 2003 and was succeeded by Dr. Huw Thomas.  Thomas, who came to UAB from the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in San Antonio, became the School of Dentistry’s seventh dean on January 1, 2004. When Dr. Thomas left UAB for the Tufts dental school, faculty member Dr. Michael Reddy became the school's interim dean effective on June 8, 2011.  Dr. Reddy became the school's eighth dean effective March 15, 2012.  He remained in that position until 2018 and was succeeded by interim dean Dr. Michelle Robinson.  Dr. Robinson, a member of the dental school faculty since 2005, was serving as an associate dean when she was named as Interim Dean of the School of Dentistry.  In July 2019 Dr. Russell Taichman, from the University of Michigan, became the school's ninth dean.  On July 1, 2023, Dr. Nicolaas Geurs, a long-time faculty member and chair of the school's periodontology department, became the interim dean of the School of Dentistry.

The School’s first two deans, Joseph F. Volker and Charles A. McCallum, Jr., went on to serve as vice president for Health Affairs and as president of UAB.

This page created 1996 and last updated by Tim L. Pennycuff on 23 August 2023

Copyright: The University of Alabama Board of Trustees.

Mervyn H. Sterne Library

917 13th St S
Birmingham, AL

(205) 934-6364

Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences

1700 University Blvd
Birmingham, AL

(205) 975-4821

Reynolds-Finley Historical Library

1700 University Blvd - 3rd Floor
Birmingham, AL

(205) 934-4475

Alabama Museum of the Health Sciences

1700 University Blvd - 3rd Floor
Birmingham, AL

(205) 934-4475

Lister Hill Library at University Hospital

615 18th Street S - P235 West Pavilion
Birmingham, AL

(205) 934-2275

801 Building

801 5th Ave South
Room 1111
Birmingham, AL

(205) 934-5432

J. Ellis Sparks Medical Library

301 Governors Drive SE - 3rd Floor
Huntsville, AL 35801

(256) 551-4405

Back to Top