Women students have participated in Indiana University (IU) School of Dentistry’s dental classes ever since Ms. Hattie Scott and Ms. Lucinia McCollum earned dental degrees in 1891, but for the first time in the 132-year history of Indiana’s dental school the newest Doctor of Dental Surgery class is composed of an equal number of males and females: 52 men and 52 women.
Although substantial numbers of women have populated IU’s dental classes for the past generation, this wasn’t always the case. Between 1879 and 1974, more than 5,000 men and just 56 women earned dental degrees from IU and its predecessor, the Indiana Dental College. The women in the incoming 2011 class, the D.D.S. Class of 2015, represent the largest class group of women at IU to date.
A total of 104 students from 17 states and four nations gathered in Indianapolis on an August Saturday to take the professional Oath of Dentistry and receive white coats that will serve as a symbol of professionalism throughout their careers in health care.
Dean John N. Williams, Jr. welcomed the students and congratulated them on their acceptance into IU’s dental degree program. He spoke of oral health as a “priceless possession” and of dentistry as a profession that calls for dentists to be lifelong learners and put others above self.
Longtime dental faculty member Dr. Timothy J. Carlson, Chair-elect of the Indiana Section of the American College of Dentists, served as keynote speaker. He commended the students for their outstanding predental academic achievements, including a class GPA that is the highest in the school’s history.
Each member of the class was then called to the stage to be presented with a coat. For the first time, parents or other relatives of the students possessing degrees in the health professions were invited to the stage to assist in the presentation.