Editor’s note: This post is part of a series of essays written by students of the Fall 2018 Public History course and based on research at Loyola’s University Archives and Special Collections.
Forty-five years ago, Loyola University Chicago was celebrating a different anniversary: the Centennial Celebration of the Loyola University School of Dentistry-College of Dental Surgery. The school marked the occasion through several activities, events, and seminars. The events and programs highlighted the spirit of the occasion and showcased the school’s talents, camaraderie, and achievements.
The Loyola University Chicago School of Dentistry-College of Dental Surgery was founded in 1883 as the Chicago Dental Infirmary. The Chicago Dental Infirmary was the first dental school in Chicago and eventually became the largest dental school in the world.  The first dean of the Chicago Dental Infirmary was Truman W. Brophy who served from 1883 to 1920. In the beginning, the school was only open to those who held medical degrees. The course was designed as twenty weeks long and to be completed directly after medical school. The medical school requirement, however, resulted in small class sizes and only two graduates at the end of the second course year. This prompted Dean Brophy and the school’s board to create the Chicago College of Dental Surgery which removed the prerequisite of a medical degree while also teaching medical courses.  During its first three decades, the school existed as a stand-alone institution as well as associated with numerous universities. In 1923, the school affiliated with Loyola University. 
The school moved locations three different times during its first six years before landing at the intersection of Wood and Harrison Streets on the West Side of Chicago in 1893. The building went through numerous renovations as increasing class sizes called for larger facilities. Building changes, however, were not the only changes happening at the dental school. By 1935, the course had become four years long with sixty credit hours or two years of undergraduate education completed. 
The dental school remained at the Harrison Street location until a new facility was built in 1969 at Loyola’s Maywood Medical Campus.  By this point the school had undergone major changes, especially under the direction of Dean William Schoen. Dr. Schoen was a graduate of the Loyola School of Dentistry in 1929 and became dean in 1957. During his tenure, the school increased postgraduate and orthodontic courses, celebrated its Diamond Jubilee, moved to an expansive new location, and developed closed circuit television to teach courses. 
During the 1970s the school further improved their Dental Hygienist and Dental Assistant degree programs.  The development of these programs also coincided with an increase in female students both as dental hygienists and as holders of Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degrees. By 1983 the school had become the largest in the state and enrolled on average five hundred students a year.  The Loyola University School of Dentistry-College of Dental Surgery opened its Centennial Celebration with a Centennial Convocation on January 23, 1983. The Centennial also marked the ten-thousandth graduate of the dental school.  There proved to be much to celebrate and Loyola University did so in a multitude of ways.
The dental school received well-wishes from various dignitaries and prominent figures, including then President Ronald Reagan. He congratulated “the faculty, alumni, and students of the oldest dental school in Illinois on their efforts to bring excellent dental care to the community they serve.”  The many words of praise and congratulations highlighted the school’s accomplishments throughout its history. During the course of the year, the school celebrated by hosting seminars, masses an alumni travel seminar, and a homecoming banquet.
The school’s numerous seminars started in January and ended in November. Some topics included “Orthodontics for the General Practioner,” “Crown and Bridge,” and “New Products and Foreign Dentistry.”  If you could afford it, the school also offered an alumni Continuing Education Seminar in Hawaii. The seminar was held for a week with varying program levels to tailor to your needs and costs. One could, for example, spend a week on Honolulu or split the week between Honolulu and Kona or Maui. Over the course of the week, five days were devoted to seminars on various topics, the seminars only lasted six hours so one would have plenty of time to explore the other activities of the islands while reuniting with former classmates. The travel seminar was also timed to commence right after the annual American Dental Association convention taking place in Los Angeles so many of the programs included a stopover from one’s hometown in Los Angeles to attend the convention as well.  The travel seminar offered alumni a chance to get together, celebrate the Centennial, and continue their education with seminar courses.
If you received an invitation to the Centennial Homecoming Banquet you would have received the invite above, cordially inviting you to join the school in the Grand Ballroom of the Conrad Hilton Hotel on April 20, 1983 for an evening of cocktails, dinner, honorees recognition, and award presentations.  Also included in your invite letter would be an RSVP card and a notice of a block of hotel rooms at the Conrad Hilton Hotel reserved for the evening. A single room cost fifty dollars a night and a double room cost sixty dollars.  Many other invitations were sent for the school’s various programming and events throughout the year.
On April 10, 1983, you would have had the chance to participate in a Mass of Thanksgiving to commemorate the Centennial. The mass was celebrated by the University President, Reverend Raymond C. Baumhart, S.J. The Prayer of the Faithful was conducted by the dental school’s own Dean, Dr. Raffaele Suriano. Various other members of the faculty, staff, alumni, and students of the dental school and University participated in the mass.  The Mass of Thanksgiving became another chance for current students, alumni, and faculty to celebrate the school’s anniversary.
The dental school celebrated its one-hundredth birthday in 1983 and Loyola University will be celebrating its sesquicentennial in 2020. However, the dental school will not be part of the celebrations. The dental school closed its doors in 1993. Loyola’s dental school was not the only dental school to close at the end of the 20th century. At the time of its closure, five other private dental schools had recently closed, leaving only fifty-five dental schools across the nation.  In 2001, Illinois’ only other private dental school at Northwestern University, closed its doors. Many schools cited increasing costs and decreasing enrollments as needs for closure.  Even as the doors remain shuttered 25 years later, the Loyola Dental School’s legacy of preeminent dental care continues to keep the school alive for many today.
The Loyola University School of Dentistry-College of Dental Surgery saw many changes over its history. The school grew from a small, two graduate course to the largest dental school in Illinois. Ever expanding, both in size and location, the school continued to transform itself to meet the time’s needs in dental care. The celebration of these improvements and history crowned with the school’s Centennial Celebration in 1983. The school hosted events for students, faculty, and alumni including: seminars, masses, a massive homecoming banquet as well as outings and a travel seminar to Hawaii. The dental school made large strides in dental education, care, and service which called for a year’s worth of celebrating that legacy. The school’s thousands of graduates are a testament to that legacy.