Marquette University School Dentistry began as the Dental Department of the Milwaukee Medical College (MMC) on September 26, 1894. On that day there were 9 faculty for the 30 entering freshman students. The dental clinic consisted of 16 chairs and a technique laboratory.
In 1897 the National Association of Dental Faculties (NADF), the acknowledged regulatory body of the day, investigated the MMC and elected it to membership. This membership recognized the MMC as a reputable school. By 1900 the Dental Department of the MMC had graduated 103 students. Many of them became prominent and played important roles in advancing dentistry in Wisconsin.
In 1899 another dental school came into existence in Milwaukee. The Wisconsin College of Physicians and Surgeons (P & S), which had opened in 1893, added a dental department. Both schools competed for students and faculty. P & S was never well attended and in 1913 it merged with what by then was Marquette University.
In 1902 Dr. Henry L. Banzhaf, a very prominent Wisconsin dentist, was named dean of the Dental Department of MMC. His affiliation with the school would last 42 years.
Creation of Marquette University
The creation of Marquette University came about in 1907. Marquette College, a liberal arts college in Milwaukee affiliated with the MMC and its four departments, dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy and thereupon became a University. Dr. Banzhaf, while retaining his appointment as dean of the dental college, also became business manager of the dental, pharmacy and nursing schools. In 1921 he was appointed business manager of the entire university.
The course of instruction in the dental school consisted of a six day week with a lecture at 8am each day and another at 5 p.m. Clinic and laboratory hours extended from 9 a. m. to 12 noon and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. during each of the 6 days. Lecturers received no remuneration, but laboratory and clinic instructors were paid. Tuition fees were $100 per student per year up until 1906. By 1916 they had been increased to $170 per year. Books for a four-year education cost $130 and instruments and supplies cost another $560.
In 1921 a new dental school opened at 604 North 16th Street. The acquisition of the old Milwaukee Dental College helped make Marquette a University, and our steps have been well worn by countless students, patients, staff and faculty over nearly eight decades. Over time, however, buildings age, programs change, and absolutely nothing lasts forever.
In 1921 Dean Banzhaf secured permission to build a new dental building. The new building was ready for occupancy in 1923. It featured a dental clinic of 150 chairs. The clinic eventually expanded to 167 chairs and would earn the reputation of being "the largest dental clinic under one roof." A major innovation of its day in the new building was a diagnosis laboratory for dental patients. It was one of the first laboratories of this type to be established in connection with a dental clinic. It was visited by dental educators from many other schools and was praised as a pioneer effort of great significance in the history of dentistry.
Something Old, Something New
In the early 1970s the antiquated 1921 facility was gutted, and a brand new dental school emerged. There were compromises involved in using the old shell, and for a quarter century students and faculty have, on occasion, struggled with their environment, trying to maintain a quality program.
Demolition of the old structure was difficult, and many compromises were necessary to accommodate support pillars, utilities, and the like. Attempting to maintain the program in the midst of the renovation was a nightmare. Now an additional 20 some years of accumulated plumbing, wiring, wear and tear have been added to the 1921 shell. But this is all a thing of the past with the completion of the new dental school in 2002.
From the Ground Up
In August of 2002, we left behind yet again an aging facility filled with many memories, both good and not so good. What we brought with us is the promise of a new beginning for dental education at Marquette University, a bright future waiting to be realized.
We were given the rare and wonderful opportunity to build a “ground up” facility conceived and planned around technological improvements and innovative teaching methods.
We adjusted smoothly to a “window-rich” environment complemented by liberal doses of technology. Once we settled in, we had a chance to see the remarkable effect this new facility would have on the delivery of dental education and patient care.
We have not been disappointed. The new building is living up to our expectations and in some cases exceeding them. The many unique features of the school are making it a great place to teach, an exciting place to learn and a comforting place to receive care.