The American College of Dentists Presents:

The Founding of the College 

Recorded for the ACD 2021 Virtual Annual Meeting and Convocation, the Founding of the College provides insights and historical context for the organization. Presented by Dr. Theresa S. Gonzales, Executive Director, this lively and engaging look into the earliest days of the College gives a broader context for understanding the world into which the ACD came to be.

The ACD is proud to have partnered with the Copley Plaza Hotel on this project. Located in Boston, Massachusetts, the hotel is an essential part of the history of the College.

The American College of Dentists Presents:

The History of the College

Recorded for the ACD 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting and Convocation, the History of the College provides insights and historical context for the organization. Presented by Dr. Theresa S. Gonzales, Executive Director, this lively and engaging look into our past provides a clear view of the College as we embark on our second century.

The ACD is proud to have partnered with the Samuel D. Harris National Museum of Dentistry on this project. Located in Baltimore, Maryland, the museum is an essential part of the University of Maryland School of Dentistry and an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institute.

Founding Members

The basic principles that gave rise to the American College of Dentists became its very essence and endure today. These ideals represented rather bold measures for the times and they also provided the foundational tenets for the College’s vital role in the years to come. The founding members of the American College of Dentists included clinicians, educators, researchers, administrators and well known leaders in organized dentistry.


“To elevate the standards of dentistry, to encourage graduate study, and to grant Fellowship to those who have done meritorious work.”

Qualifications for Fellowship:

“The candidate . . . must be of good moral character, and have a reputation for ethical conduct and professional standing that is unquestioned. Personality, integrity, education, unselfishness, and high professional ideals as well as freedom from mercenary tendencies shall be considered in evaluating the qualifications of all candidates considered for fellowship.”

Organizational Imperatives

The American College of Dentists was founded on the following principles:


The concept of an organization without political ties that could shape the future of dentistry was first envisioned by four leaders of the dental profession. They were the elected leaders of the National Dental Association. In 1922, the National Dental Association was rebranded as the American Dental Association.

John V. Conzett was President of the National Dental Association, H. Edmund Friesell was President-elect of the National Dental Association, and Otto U. King was Secretary of the National Dental Association. Arthur D. Black III was President of the National Association of Dental Faculties. The 23 founders of the American College of Dentists included luminaries in education, organized dentistry and the practice community at large.

John V. Conzett
John V. Conzett
H. Edmund Friesell
H. Edmund Friesell
Otto U. King
Otto U. King
Arthur D. Black III
Arthur D. Black III

History by the Decade

Was founded on August 20, 1920, by the four organizers and 10 other leaders from the dental profession who met at the Copley-Plaza Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts. While unable to attend in person, 9 other leaders from around the country also joined the founding ranks in absentia.

Actively participated in the Gies Survey of dental education for the Carnegie Foundation.

Advocated careers in dental research and integration of research in dental school curricula.

Formed the Commission on Journalism which moved dental journalism to a professional level and created a base for communication among all levels of dentistry.

Supported efforts to recruit men and women to dental careers.

Adopted a resolution supporting the creation of a National Dental Screening Examining Board.

Sponsored a study on health insurance systems in Europe and published a comprehensive report presenting options for payment approaches.

Conducted a comprehensive survey of dental journalism and produced a future plan and complete compilation of dental literature from 1839-1931.

Organized and incorporated the American Association of Dental Editors; developed advertising policies and guidelines; and began publishing the Journal of the American College of Dentists.

Conducted a study on cost of dental care for adults in the United States providing a basis for later preventive care initiatives.

Suspended Convocation of new Fellows from 1942-1946 because of World War II.

Provided teacher training fellowships to enhance skills of dental faculty.

Conducted a survey of dental students to determine factors attracting them to the profession and offered guidance on future perspectives for student recruitment.

Completed guidelines on continuing education, with information on the need for, content, organization, and cost.

Conducted a national opinion survey of prevention in dentistry.

Held a conference on dental health services for the American people, with recommendations on access, cost, and quality perspectives.

Conducted a conference on dental manpower to examine the need/demand for services, personnel productivity, use of personnel, communication technology, and related issues.

Developed self assessment programs for individual dentists as a basis for knowledge enhancement and continuing education planning.

Provided literature on dentistry to secondary schools and libraries.

Moved its Executive Office from St. Louis, Missouri to Washington, D.C.

Began publication of a quarterly newsletter, later to become News & Views, eventually ACD News.

Formed existing Sections into eight Regencies.

Created the American College of Dentists Foundation, a 501(c)3 dedicated to ensuring the College has funding to advance its mission.

Made recommendations to the American Dental Association on teaching ethics leading to the Commission on Dental Accreditation, adding to the standards in dental education programs and development of teaching guidelines by the American Association of Dental Schools.

Began to distribute the booklet, “Dentistry—A Health Service,” to dental school graduates.

Purchased office space in Gaithersburg, Maryland as a permanent Executive Office.

Rekindled its proactive nature toward an issue-oriented future through such initiatives as co-sponsorship of an intensive bioethics course at Georgetown University; holding an InfoTech Conference on the role of information technology in the dental profession and society; and sponsoring a conference on the future of dentistry, “Dentistry 2010: Visions of the Future.”

Developed Core Values and Aspirational Code of Ethics.

Sponsored Ethics Summit I, a unique and major effort to establish baseline dialogue in ethics from among the leaders of all major constituencies of dentistry.

Published the white paper on “Dental Managed Care in the Context of Ethics” in the Journal of the American College of Dentists.

Revised the format of the Journal of the American College of Dentists to devote each issue to one key topic affecting dentistry and inviting input from Fellows.

Revised the dental student booklet, “Dentistry—A Health Profession. A Guide to Professional Conduct.”

Developed the Ethics Wallet Card and the ACD Test for Ethical Decisions.

In 1997 developed and instituted the Summer Conference format stressing co-sponsorship with a Regency, quality continuing education, fun, and fellowship.

A new ADA CERP subject area category, “Ethics, Law, and Professionalism,” was created as a direct result of ACD action.

Sponsored “Ethics Summit II—In Pursuit of the Ethics Alliance of Oral Health Organizations” in Nashville, Tennessee.

Published the Ethics Handbook for Dentists, designed as an ethics resource for both students and practicing dentists.

Sponsored “Ethics Summit Initiative of Oral Health Organizations—Truth Claims in Dentistry” in Orlando, Florida.

Developed Courses Online Dental Ethics (CODE), online courses in dental ethics and professionalism (view at www.dentalethics.org).

Held Leadership Workshop for Section Officers as part of the ACD 2005 Summer Conference at Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Re-aligned the Regency-Section structure.

Co-sponsored the Ethics Summit on Commercialism with the American Dental Association.

Initiated a new Web address, www.acd.org.

Co-sponsored the Symposium on Integrity and Ethics in Dental Education with the American Dental Association and the American Dental Education Association, June 2007

Sponsored the Mini-symposium to Develop Dental Ethicists, Crystal City, Virginia, June 2007

Sponsored Professional Ethics Initiative Meeting, Crystal City, Virginia, February 2008

Entered Trial Integration with American Society for Dental Ethics, May 1, 2008, includes liaison to Board of Regents

Compiled 52 ethical dilemmas from the Texas Dental Journal and authored by Dr. Thomas K. Hasegawa and others in 2008 (available at www.dentalethics.org)

Developed Practice Ethics Assessment and Development program, 2010

Developed the Interactive Dental Ethics Application, an interactive PDF, 2011

Developed the Dental Ethics Survey (initially Predental Ethics Survey), 2012

Purchased 103 North Adams property in Rockville, Maryland to relocate the Executive Office to our permanent location, 2013

Initiated the “Gies Report” on dental ethics, patterned after the landmark 1926 report on dental education by Dr. William J. Gies, 2014

Entered Trial Integration with Student Professionalism and Ethics Association, January 2016, includes liaison to Board of Regents

Developed eight ethical dilemma videos in conjunction with Indiana University, 2016

Circulated the draft Gies Report 2020 manuscript to the ACD Project Advisory Group, 2018