1968: Classes start in College of Dentistry
In 1909, the Board of Governors had drawn up a list of colleges it hoped to establish at the University of Saskatchewan.1 Almost sixty years later, Dentistry was the last college on that list to become a reality. In fact, the University had been authorized, through the Statutes of the Senate to grant the degree of doctor of dental surgery since 1907. By 1918, the University became responsible for conducting professional examinations in dentistry on behalf of the Council of Dental Surgeons. Candidates were required to have a degree from a dental school or college approved by the University of Saskatchewan; in 1918, there were only four Canadian schools.2
In 1924 President Murray reported that the prairie universities were trying to avoid unnecessary duplication of academic programs. In that spirit, he wrote, “Alberta has begun Dentistry. Saskatchewan will not encroach on Alberta’s field.”3
By the early 1960s, calls for a dental college at the University of Saskatchewan were being made “from time to time,” according to President Spinks, but the case for a local college had grown more compelling. In 1963 the College of Dental Surgeons passed a resolution asking that “a Faculty of Dentistry be established in Saskatoon at the earliest possible date.” A deteriorating ratio of dentists to population and the difficulty of attracting dentists from outside the province were cited as the main reasons for needing a dental college. The Dean of Medicine, in consultation with a small committee, “came to the conclusion that the need for such a College can be demonstrated.” Although Dean Begg expressed pessimism about how such a proposal would be received by Council – “in view of the yet unknown costs of the newly established Veterinary College” – President Spinks recommended to the Executive of Council that it take action. In December 1964 the Executive of Council established a committee to study the matter; it reported back favourably in February 1965, and the following month the Senate accepted the Council’s recommendation that a College of Dentistry be established. Final approval was contingent on funding; the provincial government announced 2.25 million dollars of funding in September 1965, and the Board of Governors approved the College’s establishment in 1966. The first students were enrolled in 1968.4
1968a: First class in session, 1968. Photograph Collection, A-4179.
1. See Hayden, p. 42