ICD fellowships for faculty members

December 7th, 2021

The invitation-only International College of Dentists comprises leading dentists in more than 122 countries. Two Texas A&M College of Dentistry faculty members were honored with ICD fellowship during the organization’s annual meeting in October: Dr. Reginald Taylor, associate professor in orthodontics, and Leeanna Bartlett, instructional assistant professor emerita in public health sciences.

According to the ICD, a nominated dentist must pass a rigorous, peer-review process leading to the recognition of the individual’s “outstanding professional achievement, meritorious service, and dedication to the continued progress of dentistry for the benefit of humankind.”

Dr. Reginald Taylor instructs students in the clinic.

Taylor, who serves as director of undergraduate orthodontics, joined the College of Dentistry in 2000 and says he has dedicated himself since to “shaping the next generation of dental students.” He explains he pursued the academic side of dentistry because of his desire to teach and engage in research as well as practice dentistry.

“I was humbled by the recognition,” he says of the ICD fellowship. “It’s a high honor. I’m going to have to work hard to uphold the ideals of being a fellow.”

He has words of wisdom for any students who are considering a similar career path. Dentists fresh out of school can be saddled with large student loan debt, he says, and that may deter some from pursuing academia as their calling. He advises students to keep their sights on their end goal but to accept the fact that it may not happen in the short term.

“If it’s a dream, keep it in mind even if you’re not able to do it immediately,” he says. “You may be able to join the academic ranks a few years down the road. You will find it has a level of enjoyment and satisfaction; more than you would have thought.”

Bartlett says of Taylor, “I think he is very deserving [of the fellowship]. He is very knowledgeable in his field and is one of the most patient and kind people I know. Sometimes we lose sight of that when we’re dealing with students who don’t do what we tell them to, the way we told them to. We want to keep the fire burning—their desire to help people and do a good job—but we need to realize it’s not accomplished overnight.”

Leeanna Bartlett

Bartlett served as director of social services before retiring in August 2020 after 38 years of service. She also was course director for preceptorship courses, in which students learned from practicing dentists in the mentorship program.

Her honorary fellowship was officially extended for 2020, but the convocation was delayed a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. An honorary fellowship is given to individuals who help advance the field of dentistry without being a dentist themselves, according to the ICD website.

Bartlett said that, while she felt there were many people more qualified than her, she was humbled and grateful for the recognition.

“You know when you love your job, you love going to work every day, you’re bound to do something right,” she says. “You’re very fortunate to have a job like that.”

Bartlett says that she is most impressed by the ICD’s focus on community service and giving back to the community. Part of her job that she loved the most, she says, was “showing students being a successful dentist is more than just fixing teeth.” Giving back to one’s community, being there for one another, those were things she says she loved to teach when she worked at the college.

“The old saying, ‘Your patients don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,’ is really true,” Bartlett says. “They know when someone cares about them and their cause, and when they don’t. Giving back and serving is very important. It makes for a well-rounded dentist.”

Taylor praises Bartlett’s selection for the ICD honor.

“She has worked tirelessly over the years I’ve been here, not only in dental education but promoting dentistry to grade school children, and also getting dental students involved in presenting to kids and doing volunteer work,” Taylor says. “Also pipeline issues, bringing potential students or future students to [discovering] an interest in dentistry. She really deserves the recognition of an honorary fellow.”

— Caleb Vierkant