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“Our Deans – Yesterday and Today” by Bland N. Pippen, 1922

Bland N. Pippen (1874-1945) received his Doctor of Dental Medicine degree from the Dental Department of Washington University in 1900.  He joined the faculty of his alma mater in 1901, serving for over forty years.  This article, which appeared in the second issue (December 1922) of the Washington University Dental Journal, marks the transition of the deanship of the school from John H. Kennerly to Walter M. Bartlett.

Address by Bland N. Pippen, D.D.S.

Since the founding of the Missouri Dental College in the year 1866, there is recorded in the history of the institution to date, the administrations of five different Deans, Viz., Judd, Eames, Mudd, Fuller and Kennerly, and with the end of this scholastic year another epoch in the institution’s history will close, and a new one will begin.  It has been deemed fitting and proper that the student body and the faculty should meet here this evening for the dual purpose of honoring the retiring Dean upon the remarkable history the institution has made under his administration, and of congratulating and welcoming the newly appointed Dean, extending to him our assurances of loyalty and cooperation in his work of upholding the dignity and standing of our school among the great similar institutions of the country.

We can only surmise the feelings upon this occasion of these two distinguished men, who for many years have been collaborators in the service of the school, not always in accord regarding administrative policies yet each sincerely striving in his official capacity of furthering the best interests of the institution.

John H. Kennerly
John H. Kennerly

The retiring Dean, looking backward over the many years of struggles that tried his soul, is justified in feeling a reasonable degree of pride, as he recounts the many difficulties he was called upon to overcome, in the face of adversities that would have dismayed a less resolute and courageous individual.  The pathway of his twenty odd years as Dean was not strewn with roses, and the record the institution proudly bears to day was not made without hard toil, for Dean Kennerly may be likened unto an agriculturalist, who for the want of more modern and efficient cultivating implements, is compelled to tend a field of corn with a hoe, and naturally with such a class B equipment the quantity of the harvest must necessarily be small, yet through persistent effort the quality of the product is Class A and the demand for seed of his raising has far outgrown the supply.  For it is a matter of record that while Washington University School of Dentistry has a B rating, she stands among the schools holding the records of fewest failures before the various State boards of dental examiners and her graduates are recognized the world over as being among the best.  And as Dean Kennerly through force of circumstances has been compelled to lay down the hoe, he is to be congratulated and honored not only for the work he has so faithfully performed under adverse circumstances, but that he has left the field of his labors richer than he found it.  He has not depleted its fertility but rather he has increased its productiveness; and wherever he goes, wherever he may be, the future holds for him our hopes, our prayers, our tears.

Now as the close of this scholastic year marks the end of another epoch in the history of Washington University School of Dentistry, so also it will be the beginning of a new epoch ushering into action a new Dean to guide the destinies of the institution and we may assume that his feelings this evening are those experienced by one who takes seriously grave responsibilities.  Naturally his thoughts are of duties still to be performed, rather than of deeds already done and before, proceeding further let us stop to consider for a moment our status as an institution of Dental Learning and our future hopes and aspirations that we may correctly understand the necessary qualifications of the executive who is to lead us to their accomplishment.

As has been stated we have a Class B rating as an educational institution but the products of our functioning are Class A wherever they have been tested; so naturally it is our hope to merit and receive an A rating as an educational institution in order that the ratings of the institution and its products shall be harmonious.  Through the developments of this year steps have been taken by the University to bring about a closer, affiliation of the dental school with the medical school beginning this next year and every assurance has been given that it will be only a short period until a new building and modern equipment will be had and a still closer affiliation with the school of medicine effected.  Thus an A rating for the institution will certainly soon be had but in the mean time the quality of our graduates must not deteriorate.  We must still produce A grade products even if for a time we have to do it with the hoe.  As the affiliation of the school of Dentistry becomes closer with that of medicine and gradually the true relations of the professions are better understood, in due course of time we will probably grow into that ideal status of being an integral part of the Medical School with all the privileges and advantages thereof.

The University authorities having planned out a line of advancement for the School of Dentistry, and due to the illness of the present Dean were compelled to accept his resignation at the expiration of the present year, found themselves confronted with the problem of securing a new Dean with the necessary qualifications to carry their designs into accomplishment.  The new Dean must be a man who is fully conscious of the critical transition period of the institution, and must have courage to back his convictions in every act.  He must be a man who can work in harmony with his faculty and give due consideration to their council.  He must be a man of ideals as an educator who sees beyond the mere conferring of degrees and the licensing of practitioners as the object to be attained.  He must realize that the institution deserving perpetuation is the one that best serves the needs of humanity.  He must be a man who is not vain-glorious seeking individual preferment but one who at all times makes himself subservient to the best interests of the institution.  He must be a gentleman and a scholar, sincere, honest, conscientious and uncompromising in the securing of justice.  He must be persistent, determined, resolute and courageous and possess a sufficient degree of combativeness to successfully fight the battles of the institution in gaining and maintaining her coveted standing among other institutions of learning.

Walter Manny Bartlett
Walter Manny Bartlett

The University authorities in making the selection for the Deanship have named a man who possesses all these qualifications and more.  His stern visage is somewhat misleading, for a more kindly and sympathetic nature than his is not to be found.  Every atom of his being is saturated with loyalty.  He is loved by his friends and respected by his enemies.  He has never aspired to the position to which he has been appointed and his selection comes solely from the authorities consideration of the position seeking the man.  Therefore harmoniously we thank the authorities for the appointment and we congratulate and welcome our new Dean, WALTER MANNY BARTLETT.


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