Dentistry Alumni

A brief history of the Dental Alumni Society

This Society was formed at a meeting held at the University of 3 August 1943.
They formed their Society with 188 members, 105 of whom were in the Services and, unmindful of finances, they granted these service persons honorary membership. Within a year they were publishing a journal, Apollonia, which has become an invaluable historic source for dentistry in New South Wales in the years 1944-1971. Apollonia, a Christian martyr and the patron saint of toothache sufferers, lived in the 3rd century AD. She was put to death by pagans who tore out her teeth. She is usually depicted in religious art as holding pincers containing a tooth.

The Journal ceased publication in 1971, with expenses involved in producing and distributing the Journal given as reasons given for its demise. It is surprising that the Journal could be published in the Wartime years, when membership of the Dental Alumni Society was less than 200, yet could not be continued to the present times of peace when membership of the Society is far greater. Since 1971, several newsletters have been produced by the Society but have had short runs. The latest newsletter is Apollonia Times which commenced publication in December 1993.

The Constitution of the Society
This was drawn up in November 1943 and approved by the members. The objectives of the Society were defined in Article XII of the Constitution:

  1. To foster and maintain the closest association of graduates with the University of Sydney
  2. To promote and extend cordial relationships between graduates and under-graduates of the Faculty of Dentistry in the University of Sydney.
  3. To promote an active interest of all graduates in the Faculty of Dentistry and in post-graduate studies.
  4. To express the wishes of graduates for their adequate representation in the University of Sydney.
  5. To take an interest in any matter within the University of Sydney which, in the opinion of the Council, will be of benefit to the Faculty of Dentistry.
  6. To foster the greatest co-operation and accord between graduates and undergraduates of other Universities of the British Empire.

An Annual Dinner of the Society has been held since 1943. A biennial feature of this Dinner, since 1950, has been the presentation of the Society’s Fairfax Reading Memorial Prize whose objectives are to:

  • Perpetuate the memory of the first Dean of the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of Sydney.
  • Afford a means of recognising outstanding achievements in dentistry.
  • Encourage academic and clinical progress in dentistry.

Any graduate of the Faculty of Dentistry, University of Sydney, or any person who, in the opinion of the Council of the Society, is associated with Dental Science in the State of NSW, shall be eligible for an award of the prize. Candidates must be nominated by not less than three members of the Society.

The Society, in 1948, instituted the Sydney University Dental Alumni Society Prize, originally three guineas per year, to be awarded to the student in the 4th Year of the Faculty who made the best contribution to a colloquium. This prize has been discontinued. Other Faculty prizes donated by the Society are the A J Arnott Prize in Oral Surgery; the 1st ear Biology Prize; 2nd Year Pre-Clinical Operative Dentistry Prize; 4th year Pedodontics Prize. The Society also, after an appeal to its members in 1956, funded the establishment of the Dental Alumni Museum located in the United Dental Hospital. In 1957, £350 was given to Professor Arnott for the Museum. Professor Arnott made a personal gift to the Museum, donating a silver clockwork dental drill, then over 100 years old, which had been given to him by the Foundation Dean, Fairfax Reading. Mark Jolly was the Foundation Curator of the Museum. The Society has continued to support the Faculty over the years and has made gifts to the Fairfax Reading Library. In 1983, an appeal was made to raise funds for the Library in memory of Associate Professor Barry Barker. Over $8000 was donated to the Library.

The Society presented its Jubilee Medal, in 1993, to Kathryn Arneman, Gregory Murray and Anthony Boyden, in 1995 to Angus Cameron and in 1997 to Tania Gerzina. The award was made to recognize the achievements of younger dentists under the age of 40 years.

The Alumni Mentor Program
This was introduced by the Society in 1995. Under the Program, graduands are introduced to a responsible and experienced volunteer dental practitioner who endeavours to provide guidance, advice and support during the graduand’s first twelve months in practice. The Program aims to promote camaraderie and a feeling of belonging in the dental community and to ease the transition for new graduates between dental school and professional life.