A historical perspective on the University of Nebraska Medical Center's College of Dentistry Class of 1961.

Mary S. Willis, Roshan A. Badakhsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We conducted a retrospective analysis of the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) College of Dentistry (COD) Class of 1961 to glean information that might be useful in the design of dental education programs in Nebraska and elsewhere. We scanned annual class newsletters, demographic statistics for students entering the UNMC dental program for each decade from 1961 to 2001, and UNMC COD alumni data for patterns and themes among thirty-two dental professionals. Eighty-four percent of those contacted provided responses to a survey. We found that, like current dental cohorts nationwide, the UNMC COD Class of 1961 is mostly of European ancestry (non-Hispanic) and male. But in contrast to current dental college graduates, the UNMC Class of '61 were able to rely upon self-employment and spousal and/or military support (GI Bill) to cover the costs of their dental education. They also were more likely to enter dental school before completion of an undergraduate degree and have a substantial work history before entering the UNMC dental program. Although the most common reason for attending dental school related to independence and financial security, "time with family" and "family vacations" were the next most important reasons cited for becoming dental professionals. Among '61 graduates, the average number of years spent in the dental profession is thirty-seven years. Despite the notable changes in dental technology and the continual need for updating knowledge and skill, eight members of the UNMC COD Class of 1961 continue to practice dentistry. Most maintain contact with other class members, providing support to former classmates and maintaining an identity with their alma mater, the University of Nebraska.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)667-675
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Dental Education
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Dentistry


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