History of the College

History of the College of Dental Medicine

Columbia University began as King’s College, which was founded in 1754 by royal grant of George II, King of England,  “for the Instruction of Youth in the Learned Languages, and the Liberal Arts and Sciences.”  The American Revolution interrupted its program, but in 1784 it was reopened as Columbia College. In 1912 the title was changed to Columbia University in the City of New York. King’s College organized a medical faculty (College of Physicians and Surgeons) in 1767 and was the first institution in the North American Colonies to confer the degree of Doctor of Medicine.

The College of Dental Medicine traces its origin to 1852, when the New York State legislature chartered the New York College of Dentistry, later renamed the New York College of Dental and Oral Surgery. In 1916 Columbia University, having recognized dentistry as an integral and important part of the health sciences and a true university discipline, established its own school of dental education. Shortly thereafter, the new Columbia University dental school absorbed both the New York Post-graduate School of Dentistry and the New York School of Dental Hygiene. In 1923 it was joined by the New York College of Dental and Oral Surgery to form the School of Dental and Oral Surgery of Columbia University, thus completing a series of unique and complex mergers.

In January 2006 the School of Dental and Oral Surgery was renamed the College of Dental Medicine. The institution has remained a leading force in dental education and research ever since its establishment. In the early 1920s Professor William J. Gies of the Columbia Biochemistry Department established the International Association for Dental Research, the first organization devoted exclusively to research in the field of dentistry. In 1926 Professor Gies prepared the report Dental Education in the United States and Canada for the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. This was a major critique of dental education in the United States, and its publication resulted in the acceptance by dental schools throughout the country of the basic educational policies and objectives developed at Columbia University. The Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center was opened in the spring of 1928 at its present location, after the establishment of a permanent alliance between Columbia University with its College of Physicians and Surgeons, School of Dental and Oral Surgery, School of Public Health, and School of Nursing; the Presbyterian Hospital and its subdivisions; the New York State Psychiatric Institute; and the Washington Heights Health Teaching Center. In 1997, the Presbyterian Hospital merged with the New York Hospital (a partner of Weill Cornell Medical College) to form the New York-Presbyterian Hospital.