In the mid-1950s, a spark of enthusiasm for the betterment of dentistry began in the minds of a few forward-thinking men. Their ideas and dreams came to fruition on February 1, 1957, when the American Academy of Dental Practice Administration presented its first informative program held at the Chicago Hilton— where for thirty years the meetings continued.

Presiding was Dr. Harry Klenda of Wichita, Kansas, a destined leader who later rose to the highest position of our profession, the 106th President of the American Dental Association. Dr. Robert Stinaff of Akron, Ohio, who followed Dr. Klenda as the Academy’s second president, planned the program. One hundred and nine dentists attended this pilot meeting and gave their support to this fine addition to organized dentistry.

Mrs. Virginia Savage of Detroit, Michigan, was appointed as full-time executive secretary in 1959 and was a welcomed addition by the officers of the Academy until her retirement in 1986.

The true beginning of our Academy traces back to an early philosophy of economics and management of an ethical dental practice. There had been individual teaching along this line, but no organized effort had ever been attempted to unite individual philosophies. In an effort to bring some order to these ideas, a one-week workshop on Practice Administration was held in 1953, at the University of Michigan Dental School in conjunction with the W. K. Kellogg Foundation.

For the next four years the philosophy of practice administration developed at the state level arousing the interest of local dentists. Dr. Alvin Purinton of St. Davids, Pennsylvania, proposed a steering committee to proceed with this new philosophy at a national level. An organizational meeting was held in Chicago in February, 1956 that touched on many principles and programs that would be later accepted as a permanent part of the Academy.

Attendees agreed that this venture would promote better dentistry, both from the general body and from the individual practitioner; that it would influence the teaching of practice administration, public education, public relations, dental manufacturers and suppliers. It would change the concept of dental auxiliary personnel, and it would encourage local study groups throughout the country.

In late 1956, this steering committee proposed a list of names to serve as officers and council of the Academy and a constitution to be approved by the general body. No time was wasted as President Harry Klenda called a special council meeting immediately following the general meeting to plan the first program meeting in February 1957.

This was far from the end of the story. Not even the dreams of these early founders could match the far-reaching goals of achievement that were yet to come. One of the first milestones was the introduction of a Saturday program to be conducted to an unlimited number of guests. The first attempt occurred in January of 1958 and was enthusiastically received. The new Academy was quick to attract progressive thinkers who would revolutionize the methods of practice and office design.

Individual workshops throughout the country brought out new ideas to redesign dental equipment, place the dentist in more comfortable and relaxed surroundings and gradually increase the responsibilities of auxiliary personnel. Many Academy members contributed to this phase of dental progress. The overall effect of this endeavor no doubt left a resounding impact on the thinking of thousands of dentists throughout the country.

Another phase of dental practice that became popular among the Academy members was the concept of patient communication with emphasis on the psychological approach to patients. The membership was also motivated to learn more of the business side of their practices. Tax specialists, investment consultants and personnel managers were welcomed speakers on the agenda.

A most significant step in the Academy’s progress came with the special invitation to teachers of practice administration in dental schools. From this beginning a liaison was established between the Academy and the American Association of Dental Schools. This effort has influenced the teaching of practice administration in dental schools everywhere.

New concepts of patient education materials, bookkeeping systems, case presentation methods, time and motion studies, practice control, and many other facets of practice administration have been thoroughly explored in AADP program meetings.

The Academy, its programs and members have always been on the leading edge for technological education usage. In 1970, the Academy explored a growing concern of dentistry’s role in the national political and economic scene through an entire program devoted to the political and socio-economic pressures on the private practice of dentistry.

In 1987, the Academy opted for warmer locales moving the meeting to Houston, Texas then five years in Phoenix-Scottsdale, Ariz. For more than 25 years, the Academy has enjoyed learning in beautiful resort settings extending from east to west — Tampa, Florida to Dana Point, Calif.

In 1989 Kathleen Uebel of Chicago, Illinois, took over the reins as executive director. Kathy has been the rock of the organization for nearly 25 years as the group has grown and taken on new heights of education. She’s served as the leader and director with multiple presidents and boards and given her undivided support to every member of the Academy. She looks forward with great pride as the Academy continues to excel in educational opportunity for dentists in its 2nd half century.

AADP has stood in the industry as the most forward-thinking, progressive group in dentistry. The organization’s leaders have continually worked toward improving meetings, opportunities and members. The humble journal has become The Communicator, ably edited over the years by Dr. Walter Hrin, Dr. Richard Smith, Dr. William Kent Obermann, Dr. John Arguelles and Dr. Jeff Campbell. For more than 20 years ADS, Inc. of Fort Collins, Colo. has provided management, writing and publishing of Academy communications, working closely with Kathy, the editors, program chairs and each year’s president.

In 1994 the Academy added a bi-annual Members Only Meeting (MOM) presenting an additional educational opportunity held in spectacular resort settings, including two wonderful trips to Canada, a beautiful getaway in Mexico, a spectacular outing in Park City, Utah and this past fall a fabulous journey to the historic, world-class Broadmoor and Colorado Springs, Colo. Members experienced unbelievable service and camaraderie that is AADP and the Broadmoor. Another fun adventure awaits in 2014.

Technology has always been at the forefront for this innovative academy. Having an informative web site was critical to our membership. In the early 2000s AADPA.org was created as a valuable tool. In 2013 a redone site offered more up-to-date information on upcoming events, photos from the meetings, an electronic data base for members, and links to all of our supportive exhibitors and sponsors. This continues to be the portal for our Online Registration, which is used by 90 percent of our registrants. The Academy also uses social media with an informational meeting page on Facebook.

Today AADP has an updated logo and shortened name. It has already left a tremendous impact on the entire profession of dentistry. As the organization grows, the future impact of members to the entire dental industry will no doubt continue to exceed the wildest dreams of its founders.