Stanley Beard

For Dr. Stanley Beard (’89), University of Alabama School of Dentistry Alumni Association President, dentistry has been a part of his life for the last 55 years. In other words, since he was born. His dad, Dr. Bobby Beard (’64), was a dentist and at a very early age, he knew being a dentist was exactly what he wanted to do. “I was raised in Jackson, Alabama, a small town, so I could pal around with local doctors, “ he recalled. “I enjoyed those experiences, but felt more connected to dentistry.”

Throughout his formative years, his love for dentistry never wavered. After graduating from the University of Alabama, he earned a merit scholarship to the UAB School of Dentistry. He said his fondest memories were creating lifelong friendships with his classmates. “We go to our children’s weddings. We attend continuing education classes together. We travel together for vacations. When you spend four years with people, you become real soul mates with a core group of them.”

Following graduation he spent three years in postdoctoral work at the Foundation for Advanced Continuing Education in San Francisco. He has continued his education at LSU in New Orleans, as well as in Texas and in a residency for implants through the Alabama Institute in Birmingham. He currently practices cosmetic and general dentistry in his hometown of Jackson.

In addition to delivering the best dental care possible to his patients, Dr. Beard believes it is important to maintain a connection to the School of Dentistry. For example, he has served on the committee that chooses merit scholarship winners. “It’s very unique that this has come full circle for me and it’s rewarding to see extremely bright students choose to attend our School of Dentistry,” he said. In addition to being a member of that committee, Dr. Beard has been a long-time member of the Alumni Association. “My primary and original example of being an active member of organized dentistry was my father,” he explained. “I saw how organized dentistry was important to him, in addition to being involved in the community.

“My second greatest influence for staying connected to the School of Dentistry after graduation was Dr. David Greer,” Dr. Beard said. “He instilled in us to be part of the Alumni Association and give back to the School. That is why I believe the Alumni Association has grown and been so successful in all its efforts, from mentoring young dentists to fundraising. Most dentists are giving people and they contribute their time and efforts to many causes outside of dentistry. I think it was bred in us at a very early age in the School of Dentistry and when we host events for our students, they see the relationships that last a lifetime.”

As the president of the Alumni Association, Dr. Beard is keenly aware of the importance of choosing the right person as the dean of the School. “What a loss Dr. Michael Reddy is for the School of Dentistry,” he says with obvious conviction. “He’s done a phenomenal job in re-establishing us as one of the top dental schools in the nation. He’s tremendously talented, smart and knows how to run a dental school. He relates equally well to the students and the alumni. That’s one of the reasons we’ve been able to reach our goals. Those are the very characteristics we want in our new dean. It has to be someone who has excellent managerial and political skills, who understands the importance of political dentistry, who can appeal to our alumni, and who knows the importance of bringing in large grants for research and development. And finally, someone who can reach out and create relationships and work well with all of the other professional schools at UAB.”

In addition to being extremely interested in who is chosen to be the new dean, Dr. Beard has other concerns as Alumni Association President. One is the aging population of dentists across the state. “We are retiring out dentists, especially in rural areas, and we’re not able to replace them,” he explained. “In the next five or 10 years, it’s going to become very critical.” He said that for the most part, young dentists graduating from school, especially those with families, are choosing to establish their practices in urban areas. “Dentists in rural areas tend to work long hours,” he said. “And, there are other non-dental issues to consider as well. School systems are very important to young dentists with children or those who know they will have some in the future.”

For Dr. Beard, the issue is not just philosophical and theoretical. “Just in my area, in the last several years, three dentists have retired and there was nobody to buy their practices from them. We are extremely busy all the time. It’s crazy.” His solution? “I’d like to see the School, through the Alumni Association, create a program where we link dentists who want to retire in the next three to five years with prospective graduating students and get them in these rural areas.”

Being connected to the School after all these years. Mentoring young dentists. Staying in touch with fellow dental students. Making a difference. These are the touchstones of Dr. Beard’s affinity for dentistry and the School of Dentistry. “I feel strongly about our obligation to be involved,” he noted. “Keeping up with colleagues is important, as is mentoring young and upcoming dentists. You can’t do that if you stay within the four walls of your office.”