November 2017 Volume LIII Number 6

 
 
 
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Dr. Heber Simmons Honored for Contributions to Pediatric Dentistry

November 2017 Volume LII Number 6

When Heber Simmons Jr. completed his dental education at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, the Tupelo native could not have predicted the national impact he would have on his chosen specialty of pediatric dentistry. Dr. Simmons’ advocacy is credited with obtaining more than $100 million nation- ally through federal legislative appropriations in support of pediatric dental education.

Dr. Simmons, who received both his dental and master’s degrees from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) College of Dentistry, has practiced in Jackson for more than 55 years, but his sphere of influence in pediatric dentistry extends nationwide.

He has spent more than 20 years visiting key congressional offices on Capitol Hill cultivating relationships resulting in funding that significantly increases the number of pediatric dentists trained each year as well as the number of faculty in pediatric dentistry education. His efforts have been a critical factor in creating awareness for the importance of dental care for our nation’s children.

An Endowed Professorship of Pediatric Dentistry was recently established in his name within the UTHSC College of Dentistry to honor a man who has made a lifetime of contributions to the field. A former national president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and trustee of the American Dental Association, Dr. Sim- mons has remained active with his alma mater and is past president of the UT Pediatric Dentistry Alumni Association.

The Heber Simmons Jr. DDS MS Endowed Professorship will sustain Dr. Simmons’ legacy in pediatric dentistry and provide funds to recruit exceptional pediatric dental professors to foster the college’s established legacy of providing a top dental education. "The high level of commitment to make this professorship a reality is not surprising." The pediatric dental community recognizes the tremendous impact Dr. Simmons has had on the field. Our alumni and friends are equally dedicated to the UTHSC College of Dentistry and providing our students and faculty with necessary resources to provide top-quality education, research, clinical and public service opportunities," says UTHSC College of Dentistry Dean Dr. Tim Hottel.

The campaign was spearheaded by friends of Dr. Simmons, UTHSC alumni, and members of the UTHSC College of Dentistry faculty. Chaired by Dr. Pitts Hinson, members of the committee included: Dr. Larry Dormois, chair of the UTHSC Department of Pediatric Dentistry, Dr. Vent Murphy, president of the UTHSC Pediatric Dental Alumni Association, Dr. Steve Fuson, past president, Dr. Brad Wilkinson, treasurer, Dr. John Bogert, Dr. Charlie Hall, Dr. Paul Kennedy Jr., Dr. Jasper L. Lewis Jr., Dr. Jerry Miller, Dr. Stephen Moss, and Dr. Charlie Wilkinson.

Dr. Hinson noted the dedication of the department and the volun- teers on the committee, "It was such an honor to chair this campaign and to play a role in establishing this professorship. My sincere thanks go out to each donor, the committee, and especially to Heber Sim- mons for his life of achievement."

A plaque was presented to Dr. Simmons to commemorate the professorship at a recent dinner in his honor. It will reside in the Dunn Dental Building on the UTHSC campus in Memphis.

Dr. Simmons, who was informed of the planned endowed profes- sorship as a surprise during a UTHSC Pediatric Dentistry Alumni Board meeting, is honored by the support shown by so many people. "I am humbled by this honor and encouraged that the funds will be used to advance pediatric dentistry and the care of children. I am blessed to be part of a team of supportive and caring family and friends in my personal and professional life that has enabled me to go where I have been needed. I feel that by taking care of the children, we are leaving the woodpile higher than we found it."

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