Prior to the 1960's there was little opportunity for dentists to find quality continuing education courses. In 1952 a handful of Chicago dentists led by Dr. Thadeus -Ted" Weclew, recognizing this void and in order to create more opportunities for dental continuing education, formed what would soon become the second largest dental organization in the world, the Academy of General Dentistry.
In New York the lack of a dedicated and independent member-supported organization remained. There were limited courses given at the dental schools and there was also a private provider of continuing education in Manhattan, the New Organization for Graduate Dentists. At the helm of the Institute were Dr. Myron -Mac" Lieb and Dr. George Kudler.
In the late 1950's or early 1960's while attending the Chicago Mid-Winter meeting they became aware of the fledgling Academy of General Dentistry. They envisioned that such an organization could find support in New York. There, in a meeting room in Chicago, they started recruiting dentists who they recognized as New Yorkers by their admission badges. Upon returning to New York, recruiting took a more personal direction. Those who had joined now began to call their friends and asked them to join the group. One member at a time, they succeeded.
In the early to mid 1960's meetings were held informally, usually in the basement of someone's home. Dr. Kudler was now dedicating much of the time that he was not in his practice in Brooklyn to the New York State Academy of General Dentistry and he formally became our first president. Dr. Lieb, while still actively involved was spending more of his time with the New Organization for Graduate Dentists and his practice in Manhattan. As a consequence, the preponderance of membership was coming from Brooklyn thanks to it being promoted at meetings of the Second District Dental Society. Also fostering this growth was Dr. Irving Gruber, the Executive Director of the Greater New York Dental Meeting. Dr. Gruber, while never becoming active in the AGD, saw a symbiotic relationship between the NYSAGD and the GNYDM, fostering the desire for continuing education would bring dentists to the GNYDM and likewise those who took courses would be interested in an organization that promoted continuing education.
The NYSAGD from the 1970's into the early 1990's had a presence at the Greater New York Dental Meeting by hosting a hospitality room where members attending the meeting could safely leave their coats, have some refreshments, have their questions answered about membership issues and informally schmooze with their friends and colleagues. The hospitality room also engendered membership recruitment. Unfortunately, as costs escalated it was felt that this expense put a disproportionate burden on the membership and was discontinued.
With the involvement of Dr. Fred Burling, membership began expanding into Long Island. Growth in the Academy was becoming geometric. Meetings at homes were no longer practical. They were now being held in hotel meeting rooms to accommodate the growing attendance at both Board of Trustee meetings and courses sponsored by the NYSAGD. Attendance at courses routinely was surpassing 200 attendees and occasionally would exceed 300. The preponderance of the membership continued to be in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Nassau County so the most convenient venues were hotels around JFK Airport.
In the mid 1970's under the presidency of Dr. Carl Swerdlove a committee consisting of Drs. Mac Lieb, Herb Horowitz and Henry Trow drafted a Constitution and Bylaws which was ratified by the general membership. New York thus became the first constituent to have a set of Bylaws and it served as a model for all other constituents. At that time the Bronx was a component of the First District Dental Society and as the word spread through Manhattan it was natural for dentists in the Bronx to also become interested in joining.
Besides the obvious desire of dentists to have quality continuing education, membership in the Academy grew because there was a warmth and friendliness at the meetings. It was not only to gather knowledge but the meetings and courses gave the attendees an opportunity to reacquaint with friends and classmates. The Academy, being a new organization, also gave younger dentists who wanted to become involved in a professional organization a chance to hold a position of leadership sooner than they could in the dental society.
Membership from the upstate region in the NYSAGD was occurring but it was not until the late 1970's that there was significant growth. Dr. Frank Frani who at the time was the Area Vice President from Syracuse had the innovative idea to hold one membership meeting and its associated course upstate. The Board embraced this idea and when it went into effect appreciative dentists from the upstate regions joined in increasing numbers. This idea was also tried in Buffalo by Dr. Renzo Nylander and it continues to this day in the Albany area under the guidance of Dr. Marshall Price.
Study clubs were becoming a way for dentists to interact and learn from their colleagues. One of largest and most active was in Westchester. When the founder of this group, Dr. Phil Morse involved himself with the NYSAGD membership from this area grew rapidly.
The 1970's continued the increase in membership. More was expected of our office and consequently we hired our first Executive Secretary. Phyllis was the daughter of George Kudler. She dedicated a room in her home to maintain the files of the Academy and do the necessary clerical tasks all along with her full time job as a dental hygienist.
In the 1990s requirements of New York State mandated continuing education law led us to having a real office located in White Plains. We also hired an Executive Director who could give leadership and guide the organization in a more businesslike manner. The organization that was borne with meetings of a handful of dentists fifty years ago had grown up. We shifted the location of our meetings to the area near LaGuardia to make it easier for attendees coming from the Upstate area and the northern suburbs of the metropolitan area.
Meetings of the Academy of General Dentistry where all constituents sent delegates are held at various cities throughout the United States and Canada. Representation at these meetings is based on proportionate membership in the Academy by the individual states and provinces. From the 1970's and 1980's New York (Region 2) was a leader sending the largest delegation to the AGD Annual Meeting. Four presidents of the AGD were from New York: Dr. George Kudler (1973-74); Dr. Stanley Markovits (1977-78); Dr. Ludi Leibsohn (1991-92); and Dr. Howard Glazer (1995-96). All brought honor to New York. We also were represented by two Speakers of the House, Dr. Carl Swerdlove (1983-87), Dr. Jay Orlikoff (1997-99) and Dr. John Comisi (2013-15).
From the early 1990's through the present, membership in the NYSAGD has leveled off. Our membership has been affected by population shifts and increased retirements to sunbelt locations in the United States. If you are a current member and reading this history, look back into your roots and call your friends and colleagues and just like in the old days, spur on our membership one member at a time.
Compiled by Jay S, Orlikoff, DDS, FAGD with invaluable help and input from Mrs. Phyllis Kudler (Siegler) Zinner, RDH, Stan Markovits, DDS, MAGD, Herb Horowitz, DDS, FAGD, Charles Mirabile, DDS, FAGD, Frank Frani, DDS, FAGD, Charles Puglisi, DMD, FAGD, Marshall Price, DDS, Ludi Liebsohn, DDS, FAGD, and Jack Glazer, DDS, FAGD.