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A 25th Anniversary Tribute to the College of Diplomates

“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill

A few months ago, I highlighted the paths to Board certification of two endodontists, Dr. Sheena Howell and Dr. Anthony T. Borgia. Both of them recognized the importance of mentors, emphasizing the importance of asking for support along the way. It also emphasizes the importance of mentors stepping up when asked. For 25 years, the College of Diplomates (COD) has done this exceptionally well. It has been a source of support and knowledge for endodontists pursuing Board certification.

It makes sense that an organization that has given so much to our specialty was founded by incredibly devoted and esteemed individuals. I want to give them some spotlight this month. I firstly must thank and credit the Chairman of the Committee to establish the COD, Dr. Stuart Fountain, for sharing the following thorough and detailed historical account of the College with current COD President Dr. Ken Frick, who recently shared it with me. A lot has changed in 25 years, and the COD has come a long way; but for those who lived its history in real time, I’m sure there’s something special about looking back at those early days in the mid-1990s when it all began.

Allow me to transport you back to the November 1993 meeting of the ABE, when Dr. Lamar Hicks, then president of the ABE, and then ABE Secretary Dr. Sandy Madison led a discussion of a concept of a College of Diplomates. Dr. Hicks recommended that Dr. Fountain lead an organizing effort for the College. These talks came following several conversations with Board-certified orthodontist Dr. Alan Borislow about the orthodontic specialty’s own College of Diplomates of the American Board of Orthodontists (CODABO).

On the heels of that November 1993 ABE business meeting, additional conversations with CODABO followed. A proposal was then developed by Dr. Hicks for a College of Diplomates of the American Board of Endodontics for presentation to the ABE Directors at their Spring Meeting in Honolulu, in April 1994. After the Long Range Planning Committee’s report to the full Board, a motion was made to proceed with an initiative to establish a College of Diplomates. Dr. Hicks was granted verbal approval to initiate contact with then AAE Immediate Past-President Dr. Fountain.

At the AAE’s Annual Session in Honolulu that same year, Dr. Hicks and incoming ABE President Dr. Louis Rossman did just that. Twenty-three Diplomates attended an informal meeting held in the President’s suite in Honolulu. That discussion went very well. Those in attendance all agreed to acquire five mentors each in an effort to build a national network of mentors.

The following year, during the AAE Annual Session in Orlando, Dr. Fountain led a discussion about the need for a College of Diplomates before a group of 40-50 Diplomates. The draft Constitution and Bylaws were distributed. An interim Executive Committee comprised of Chairman Dr. Fountain and Drs. Hicks, Rossman, Leif Bakland, Eric Rivera, and Martha Proctor followed. Drs. Hicks and Rossman were now tasked with developing a finalized Constitution and Bylaws, and Dr. Fountain was to obtain approval from the Executive Committee and AAE Board of Directors for the official formation of a College of Diplomates.

By April 1996, the preparation work was complete. The AAE Board had approved the concept and the Directors of the ABE were supportive. The proposed Constitution and Bylaws were distributed at the 1996 AAE Annual Session in Dallas, and not a single negative voice was heard. All those present had just witnessed the birth of a new organization that would benefit our specialty for years to come. History was made. A notebook was passed around for everyone to sign to be shown as charter members of the COD – 156 Diplomates signed!

To honor those who made the College possible and worked tirelessly to bring a great idea to fruition, I’ve listed the slate of COD charter officers and directors here:

President: Dr. Stuart Fountain
President-Elect: Dr. Lamar Hicks
Secretary/Treasurer: Dr. Thomas “Tom” Mork
Directors: Drs. Leif Bakland, A.C. “Ace” Goerig, Martha Proctor, Eric Rivera and Louis Rossman

The COD has dynamically evolved over these past 25 years of its remarkable journey. As Immediate Past President of the COD Dr. Priya S. Chand described in a Communique Q&A article: From Board Review courses to summer conferences biennially, and an Annual COD reception at the AAE, the COD offers continued education opportunities in pertinent areas in endodontics to its members. Its mentoring journey itself has grown in leaps and bounds from when it started off by mentoring five to six candidates to now where we have established a global presence in their mentoring model.

The COD’s mentors themselves continuously evolve new approaches in their work practice to expand the knowledge base for candidates.  For instance, the recent innovative practice of incorporating simulation mock orals, exposing candidates to experience the reality of exams in their Board’s journey. Additionally, to further facilitate candidates, the COD has introduced a resourceful study aid guide as an integral part of board preparation.

The upcoming Biannual Summer conference is a highlight event. It is “a scientific meeting with a social flair”, as Dr. Chand puts it, and is an important occasion that involves world-renowned speakers on cutting-edge topics in endodontics. It embraces families that helped the members through their journey of Board certification.

The COD made an important decision to move its upcoming summer conference to 2022. The event is now scheduled for August 11-14, 2022, at The Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont.

Visit the COD’s website,, to keep up with the COD’s latest news and events.

Happy Silver Anniversary, College of Diplomates! Thank you for all you give of your time and talent to support our board certification candidates.