Texas A&M School of Dentistry

On Campus

50 years of giving

This story was originally published in the Baylor Dental Record Online in November 2011.


Orthodontic department’s legacy of generosity continues with endowed professorship

It’s not uncommon for Dr. Phillip Campbell to get to thinking during the seven-hour trek back to Dallas from his family’s Carrizo Springs, Texas, deer lease. As the miles stretched before Campbell and his friend, Susan, after a long Memorial Day weekend, he shared an idea with her.

“As we were driving back that Tuesday, I told Susan I wanted to do something special for the 50th anniversary gala,” says Campbell, who holds the Robert E. Gaylord Endowed Chair and serves as chair of the department of orthodontics.

The result: fundraising to establish an endowed professorship in honor of Dr. Peter Buschang, professor and director of orthodontic research.

Each year, Buschang oversees the thesis research for six orthodontic residents. Of that research, just two residents’ studies are submitted to the American Association of Orthodontists. Over the past two years, the department won an unprecedented four awards.

An overwhelming response

Dr. Buschang addresses the attendees
More than 300 people attended the orthodontic department’s 50th anniversary gala at the Park City Club in Dallas, where the endowed professorship was announced. Photos by Steven Doll

Later that week, Campbell picked up the phone and started making calls.

Five months and approximately 130 pledges later, the department has raised $650,000 for the Peter H. Buschang Endowed Professorship in Orthodontics. Considering the original goal was $500,000 and the donors account for just about half of the orthodontic program’s alumni base, a $1 million endowed chair is a possibility. The department already has the Robert E. Gaylord Endowed Chair, the only one of its kind at Texas A&M Health Science Center Baylor College of Dentistry.

Buschang’s former residents, who account for 123 pledges, were only asked once to give.

One recent graduate had a particularly definitive response, Campbell recalls.

“He said, ‘If it hadn’t been for Peter Buschang, I wouldn’t be an orthodontist,’” Campbell says. And with that, the alumnus pledged five times the standard amount. The check was at the department two days later.

“The alumni are clearly aware of what the department has done to make them successful. It reinforces what I have believed all along — that we have the best residents of any program in the world.”

—Dr. Peter Buschang

Even alumni who didn’t study under Buschang have expressed an interest in contributing to the professorship, which will advance the department’s research program.

Alumni and residents’ willingness to give reveals two hallmarks of the graduate orthodontic program: a deep appreciation for their training and a desire to give back. One only need flip through the pages of the department’s 50th anniversary commemorative book, given at the Oct. 22 symposium and gala, to get the idea — more than 100 pages chronicling the department’s history feature images of faculty, residents and their families at study groups, annual gatherings and parties. They all have broad smiles and arms around one another’s shoulders — it’s a close knit group, for sure.

Origins of giving

In 1960, Dr. Robert E. Gaylord, a Highland Park, Texas, orthodontist, proposed the idea of a graduate program to then Baylor College of Dentistry dean, Dr. Harry B. McCarthy. Gaylord and the department co-founder, Dr. Thomas Matthews, were given a promising response: They could have some space in the basement, where the mailroom is housed today; that is, if they could raise the necessary funds.

Gaylord approached former preceptor students and even influential patients to generate the necessary support. By June 1961, the Graduate Department of Orthodontics enrolled its first class and with it, a legacy of generosity.

“When Dr. Gaylord was chair, he never asked for money, but we all wanted to please him,” says Campbell, a 1971 dental and 1973 orthodontic alumnus, who championed the fundraising effort for the first endowed chair. “Jokingly, we called him ‘the Godfather.’

“That feeling he conveyed to us; we want to carry it on,” Campbell adds.

The tradition of giving continues today.

“They would go out of their way to support us,” Campbell says of the alumni. “They’re always willing to step up.”

Buschang has similar sentiment.

“It tells me that the alumni are clearly aware of what the department has done to make them successful,” Buschang says. “It reinforces what I have believed all along — that we have the best residents of any program in the world.”

Stability for the future

Buschang recognizes that being honored with the professorship is incredibly significant, but that doesn’t mean he’s spending time basking in the limelight. Instead, his focus is on the department’s research program.

“I have had honors bestowed on me in the past, but this one is special,” says Buschang. “The future of orthodontic research is dependent on funds such as these.”