September 25, 2000
Volume XXXIII, No. 34

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Dr. Joel Alexander

Dr. Alexander

While he considers himself an average guy, Dr. Joel Alexander, director of the Undergraduate Division in the Department of Endodontics, is quite extraordinary. As a fixture in the Dental School for almost a quarter-century, this endodontist has served as director of several courses and has extensive experience serving on departmental, Dental School and Health Science Center committees. He is a member of nine professional organizations and has served on committees and task forces of most of these as well as an officer for several of them.

However on Sept. 30, Dr. Alexander will officially retire from the Health Science Center. But this Diplomate of the American Board of Endodontics wonít stray too far from the Dental School; he plans on working two half-days per week, nine months per year for the next couple of years teaching in the undergraduate endodontic clinic.

"Most people who go into dentistry look forward to being their own boss in their own place. I enjoyed practicing general dentistry in San Antonio for 13 years, but I always had a real interest in dental education and endodontics, and in 1975 I decided to specialize in endodontics and seek a part-time faculty appointment," said Dr. Alexander, an endodontic resident from 1975 to 1977 at The University of Texas Dental Branch in Houston, where he was also an assistant professor. After that, "I had an endodontics practice in San Antonio for 10 years and I really enjoyed the fact that we could solve acute problems for patients in one or two relatively short visits while concurrently on the part-time faculty at the Dental School óit was very rewarding."

The call of teaching became stronger and stronger. Dr. Alexander converted to full-time faculty in December 1984 as associate professor of endodontics with tenure. However, he wasnít always in dentistry. While a dental student, he was a student instructor of physiology at the U. T. Dental Branch and later taught physiology at the Hermann Hospital School of Physical Therapy, in Houston.

While Dr. Alexanderís principal focus is on teaching, heís proud of serving on the American Dental Association Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations for more than the usual five years. He served on the Endodontic Test Construction Committee from 1986 to 1991 and then on the Case-Based, Component B Test Construction Committee from 1991 to 1995.

From 1992 to 1995, Dr. Alexander was also on the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners Specialty Advisory Committee for endodontics. From 1985 to the present, he has been a member of the Department of Endodontics Faculty Tenure and Promotions Committee, and has chaired the committee since 1990. He also highlights his five-year term on the Health Science Center Faculty Tenure and Promotions Committee and a two-year term on the Dental School Post Tenure Evaluation Committee as intensive but enjoyable experiences.

Other activities Dr. Alexander mentions as career highlights are his 10 years as a member of the Dental School Academic Scholarship Fund, Task Force for Faculty, which he chaired from 1996 to 1998 and his long term membership in Mu Nu Chapter of the Omicron Kappa Upsilon National Dental Honor Society. He served in all of its offices and was Secretary-Treasurer from 1992 to 1999.

"I donít see myself as a great star," said Dr. Alexander, who was elected as an American College of Dentists Fellow in 1982. "Itís simply a highly rewarding experience to be associated long term with the tremendous group of faculty, staff and students we have here."

Dr. Alexander, a veteran of the Korean War, earned his bachelorís degree from Texas Christian University, his D.D.S. from the U. T. Dental Branch at Houston and his masterís in human physiology from the U. T. Medical Branch at Galveston, where he was a National Institutes of Health Fellow.

He has been married to Peggy, who teaches English as a foreign language at the University of the Incarnate Word, for 47 years. They have a son, Joel, III, who is a dentist and Lt. Colonel in the Air Force; and daughter, Sharon, who is an attorney in Austin with the Texas Department of Health.

ó Fernando Serna