Joseph F. Volker, DDS, Ph.D., founding dean of UAB’s School of Dentistry, spent three months in Thailand in 1951 as part of an educational program funded by the U. S. Department of State. That trip was the first of many for Volker and other UAB faculty, and the tradition of international partnerships continues through multiple programs the school has developed to enhance education and global reach.
Each year, the school hosts dental students from Japan for a 10-day cross-cultural experience. The school also partners with Taiwan’s Chung Shan Medical University (CSMU), which has been formally affiliated with UAB since 1996; Professor Perng-Ru Liu, DDS, DMD, chair of Department of Restorative Sciences, is an alumnus. Four CSMU dental students visit UAB for a four-week externship each year, attending lectures and rotating through clinics to observe patient care. UAB administrators and faculty also travel to CSMU as speakers and guests.
Additionally, in conjunction with the International College of Dentists, a humanitarian organization, several French dental students visit UAB for a week each summer, and two UAB students spend a week in Nice, France, each fall. The students observe in clinic, lab, classroom and research settings and participate in cultural activities.
UAB’s Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery also has a longstanding academic exchange program in Saudi Arabia, which began decades ago after former dental dean and UAB President Charles McCallum, DDS, M.D., visited the Middle East and several Saudi dentists visited UAB. In 2010, after department Chair Peter Waite, DDS, M.D., was invited to lecture, several UAB graduate students visited through sponsorship from the Saudi Ministry of Health. During the past decade, many Saudi dentistry fellows have trained at UAB.