Orthodontic department celebrates 60th anniversary

April 6th, 2023

Dr. Larry Tadlock speaks at the orthodontic department’s 60th anniversary gala.

Park City Club was alive with laughter, music and fond memories March 31 as Texas A&M School of Dentistry’s orthodontic department celebrated its 60th anniversary.

The gala recognized the department’s rich history and long list of achievements. Since 2010, members of the department have received 23 research honors, including the Milo Hellman Research Award, the Resident Clinical Awards and the Thomas M. Graber Award of Special Merit. In fact, the school’s orthodontic department has led the nation in research awards for the past 20 years, tied with only the University of Michigan for total number of awards during that time.

The evening also honored three department leaders for long careers of achievement: Dr. Peter Buschang, Dr. Phillip Campbell and Dr. Richard Ceen.

Buschang joined Texas A&M School of Dentistry 34 years ago as a professor and has also served as director of orthodontic research. He was invited by Ceen to interview with the school in 1988. Decades later, Ceen would also help create the Peter H. Buschang Endowed Professorship and an endowed chair for orthodontic research in his honor. Buschang was also honored with a lifetime achievement award from the American Association of Orthodontists in 2018 for a career that produced more than 300 published papers, millions of dollars in grant awards and hundreds of mentored graduate students.

“For the past 34 years, I have been fortunate to work with numerous individuals who have helped our research program develop into one of the best and strongest in the world,” Buschang wrote in a letter to gala attendees, inserted into the evening’s program. “Your support will make it possible to continue the tradition and produce even more remarkable results.”

Dr. Philip Campbell, honored during the orthodontic department’s gala last week, shares a story with a guests.

Campbell served as a faculty member for the school for more than 12 years, joining as a teacher full time and orthodontic clinic director in 2005. He took the reins as department chair in 2010 and was also granted emeritus status following his retirement in 2017. His tenure with the school was marked by high standards and hard work to bring the department to ever greater heights. The Dr. Phillip M. Campbell Orthodontic Clinic in the Clinic and Education Building was named in his honor last year.

“It is so gratifying for all of us who graduated from this fine orthodontic experience to see the progress we have made in 60-plus years,” Campbell wrote. “We all beam with pride knowing that we are the preeminent graduate orthodontic program in the country.”

Ceen celebrated his retirement in 2013, after a 25-year career with the orthodontic department as a faculty member, program director and department chair. The Richard F. Ceen Endowment for Educational Enrichment was established in 2012 to continue his work enhancing the graduate ortho program.

“It is the people I’ve been fortunate enough to work with and the stimulating intellectual environment that challenged me (as Dr. Tadlock frequently says) to ‘bring your A-game every day,’” Ceen wrote. “The residents deserve no less, and the quality of their future careers depend on it. While we hope as faculty that we can have a positive impact on the lives of our residents, I don’t know if they realize how much they impact our lives.”

It was also an opportunity for alumni and current residents to network and share stories over food and drink.

“I chose this school because it came down to the reputation of the program,” said Dr. Bill Fletcher, a second-year resident, ’24. “If you delve into the literature of orthodontics, there’s a couple of schools that keep popping up over and over, and this is one of those schools.”

Dr. Katie Julien, ’94, said she followed her brother to the A&M School of Dentistry and later joined the orthodontic department.

“While I was there, I connected with the ortho department, and the people there welcomed me into their family even before I was a resident,” Julien said. “Our class motto was ‘We’re just happy to be here.’ To this day, we probably still think that. How in the world did we ever get chosen to be in this elite group?”

Last week’s orthodontic gala celebrated the department’s 60th anniversary and brought together alumni, faculty and current residents to share stories and a good meal.

The idea for the orthodontic department originated in 1960 when Dr. Robert E. Gaylord proposed its creation to then- Baylor College of Dentistry. Dean Harry B. McCarthy said the proposed department could have space in the school’s basement if they could raise the funds needed. Gaylord and co-founder Dr. Thomas Matthews welcomed the first class in 1961, and they met in what is today the mail room.

“The gala was a true celebration of the history and strength of our department and what it has become over the last 60 years,” said Dr. Larry Tadlock, department head and Robert E. Gaylord Endowed Chair of Orthodontics. “We are a family. We honored three former leaders of our department, and we honored the alumni for their consistent support. It was a great night.”

— Caleb Vierkant

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