Howard Gathers to Honor College of Dentistry Dean Emeritus, International Dentistry
WASHINGTON -- Howard University students, faculty, staff, alumni are invited
to a special memorial service for Dr. Joseph Louis Henry, dean emeritus and
professor of the College of Dentistry and internationally prominent health
care leader, from noon to 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 9, in the Rankin Memorial Chapel.
Dr. Henry was dean of Howard University's College of Dentistry from 1966 to
1975. He ended his professional career in 1995 after serving as associate dean
and later interim dean at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine. Upon his retirement,
he was named a professor emeritus of the school.
He died in his home in San Rafael, Calif., in October after a long bout with
Lewy body dementia. He was 87. This will be the first opportunity since his
death that the University has had to honor Henry, a champion of healthcare
and humanitarian causes throughout the United States and abroad.
As dean at Howard, Henry introduced numerous innovations in dental instruction
to the college. For instance, in 1971, Howard was one of the first dental schools
in America to provide a new preclinical, clinical training facility for dental
students that included the "sit down, four-handed" concept for patient
The facility included the use of mannequins with removable elements simulating
the human mouth and teeth. Students were taught preclinical technique in a
convertible clinic-one that was designed for preclinical technique and the
treatment of patients.
Prior to that time, students were taught in bench-type preclinical laboratories,
and patients were treated in a sitting rather than a reclining position.
Dr. Henry was born in New Orleans, May 2, 1924. He received a bachelor's of
science degree from Xavier University, a doctors of Dental Science from Howard
University and his master's degree and a doctorate degree from the University
He began his career at Howard in 1946 as an instructor in oral medicine at
the College of Dentistry before leaving in 1948 for fellowships and research
at the University of Illinois.
He returned to Howard in 1951 as an associate professor in the College of
Dentistry and ultimately became dean of the college.
In 1975, Dr. Henry joined the faculty at Harvard University as the first African-American
professor in the history of the School of Dental Medicine. While there, he
served in a variety of positions, including a number of associate dean positions
and interim dean of the dental school.
To honor his years of leadership at Howard, he was appointed in 1981 as dean
emeritus of the College of Dentistry.
He was a member of numerous boards and committees, including the American
Cancer Society, the University of Pittsburgh, Illinois College of Optometry,
Institute for Myofunctional Therapy and the American Council on Education.
He was also a member of the American College of Dentists, the Royal Society
of Health and the International College of Dentists.
From 1965 to 1970, he was a member annually of the White House Conferences
on International Relations, Children, Employment of the Handicapped and Food,
Nutrition and Health.
He was a recipient of over 100 awards, including the Urban League Public Service
Award, the United Negro College Fund Inter-Alumni Award, the National Naval
Dental School Special Award, the Robert T. Freeman Dental Society Award and
the Dentist of the Year Award from the National Dental Association.
He was also a recipient of the National Dental Association Triennial Award,
the National Optometry Association Founder's Award and the District of Columbia
Dental Society's award for Dentist of the Year.
He holds honorary doctorate degrees from the Illinois College of Optometry,
Xavier University and Harvard School of Dental Medicine.
He leaves his wife, Dr. Gracia B. Cua, an alumna of the Howard's College of
Dentistry, two sisters, Madeleine Forsythe and Rosary Ann Martin, both of Ohio,
and four children, Leilani Smith and Joseph Henry Jr., both of Maryland, Joan
Henry of New York, and Peter Henry of San Rafael, Calif.