OU College of Dentistry Mourns Loss of Founding Dean

OU College of Dentistry Mourns Loss of Founding Dean

Published: Tuesday, January 21, 2020

William E. Brown, D.D.S, 98, founding dean of the University of Oklahoma, College of Dentistry, died Jan. 16, 2020.

“Dr. Brown was a phenomenal individual, who laid an incredible foundation for the outstanding program we have here today,” said Raymond A. Cohlmia, D.D.S., College of Dentistry dean.

The son of a practicing dentist, Brown was originally from Benton Harbor, Michigan, and earned his doctor of dental surgery degree from the University of Michigan School of Dentistry.

After graduation, he joined his father’s dental practice, then pursued specialty training in pediatric dentistry, ultimately establishing a pediatric dentistry practice in Ann Arbor, which continued for 15 years.

He taught in the department of pediatric dentistry at the University of Michigan and in 1961 became a full professor, and a full-time faculty member in 1962. He also served as associate dean for graduate and post-graduate dentistry. Concurrent with his leadership role in dental education, he became actively involved in organized dentistry and served as president of the Michigan Dental Association, American Society of Dentistry for Children and American Academy of Pedodontics.

He was recruited to the University of Oklahoma in 1969 to initiate a facility and curriculum plan for what would become Oklahoma’s premier dental school, the OU College of Dentistry. The college officially opened its doors in 1972, and saw its first dental class of 24 students graduate in 1976.

Brown served as dean from 1969 to 1987, and was acting provost for OU Health Sciences Center from 1973 to 1975. He successfully recruited high-caliber dental educators in order to develop a dental program that became the standard of excellence in dental education.

Brown retired in 1987 and returned to his home state of Michigan after serving as founding dean for 18 years. In retirement, Brown was part of the Oklahoma City Red Cross volunteers serving on site during the aftermath of the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

He leaves a legacy of service and academic excellence, and will be remembered for his invaluable contributions not only to the College of Dentistry but to the entirety of the educational mission of the University of Oklahoma. Faculty, staff and students will continue to benefit from the foundation of high-quality education he established at the OU College of Dentistry.