Three Dental Branch Alumni Demonstrate Innovation in Giving
Published: March 08, 2009 by By Rhonda Moran, Dental Branch
Three graduates of The University of Texas Dental Branch (UTDB) at Houston have made separate but similar gifts to the school, but they’ve done it in three different ways, illustrating some of the many options available to potential contributors. The gifts are all tax-deductible, too.
Herbert L. “Herb” Wade, D.D.S., (’69) and his wife, Sally, of Bryan have arranged for a planned gift of $100,000 that will become the Herbert and Sally Wade Professorship in Pediatric Dentistry – a first for the Pediatric Dentistry Department at UTDB.
William R. “Bill” Birdwell, D.D.S., (’73) and his wife, Susan, of Bryan have donated $100,000 for the new Dental Branch building, which will be located in the UT Research Park currently under construction in the southern part of the Texas Medical Center.
And Claude L. Nabers, D.D.S., M.S.D., (’46), his wife Blanche and their sons, Mark and Brad Nabers, have made a gift supporting the Claude and Blanche Nabers Visiting Professorship in Periodontics – only the second visiting professorship in the history of UTDB.
Wade, a pediatric dentist, is particularly concerned about the shortage of dental faculty, and he and his wife also wanted to make a gift that would have a lasting effect. The result was a professorship in pediatric dentistry that will be funded upon their passing. Wade also saw the gift as a “chance to make history in establishing the first such professorship for pediatric dentistry at the school.” “Here’s a chance to get in on the ground floor, not only to be building a dental school but also to establish a world-class dental school by donating professorships. I don’t know if this will ever come along again,” he said.
At 84, Nabers lives in San Antonio, retired after a career in periodontics that included a successful practice, dental inventions, scholarly publications, and lectures and surgical demonstrations before audiences around the world. He has lectured in 28 states and 14 countries, and it is perhaps especially fitting that this gift, made via transfer of stock from their family’s limited partnership, will be used to fund a visiting professorship in periodontics.
“I really thought I needed to do something for my profession, to give something back, because it has been so good to me,” he said. “(My wife and I) have had a wonderful, wonderful life. If I did anything different than most, it was by recognizing problems and prayerfully working to find answers – and the answers came, in strange and unusual ways.”
The Claude and Blanche Nabers Visiting Professorship in Periodontics will support annual lectures from some of the nation’s preeminent educators in the field. The first lecturer was William Stalker, D.D.S., M.S., of San Antonio, speaking on the topic “60 Years of Periodontics.” Those attending earned six hours of continuing education credit.
The UT Dental Branch is currently completing plans for a new dental school building, and Bryan dentist Bill Birdwell and his wife, Sally, directed their pledged contribution toward that building project. When it’s finished, they’ll be recognized in the new building with a permanently named place that is meaningful to them.
Birdwell is no stranger to community service and giving. He is active with the UTDB Alumni Association and also helped establish an indigent-care dental clinic in Bryan-College Station. Even so, he thinks some of his dental school classmates will be surprised at his support of the UTDB building project.
“I was an above-average student, but I wasn’t in the top 10 percent,” he said. “And I didn’t have a great attitude during the first couple of years of dental school. Some of the faculty gave us what I considered rough treatment, and I took offense at that. My classmates would think, ‘Bill Birdwell would never set foot in that building again.’ Well, I invite them to call me – I’ll explain.”
Like Wade and Nabers, Birdwell said dentistry has made a wonderful life possible, with time for his family, rewarding compensation and opportunities to volunteer in his community. He’s been involved in alumni activities for nearly 20 years, and maintaining those connections makes it easy to want to be part of making the school better.