Biographical Sketch of Alfred Owre (1870-1935)
Alfred Owre was born in Hammerfest, Norway on December 16, 1870. He came to the United States in 1884 and attended the Lutheran Preparatory School in Minneapolis from 1884-1885. He received a D.M.D. from the University of Minnesota College of Dentistry in 1895; M.D. and C.M. Degree from the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Hamline University in 1895; B.A. from the University of Minnesota in 1910 and So.D. (Honorary) from Columbia University in 1929. He was Dean and Professor of Theory and Practice of the College of Dentistry at the University of Minnesota from 1905-1927. After his tenure at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Owre became the Dean of the School of Dental and Oral Surgery at Columbia University from 1927-1933.
Alfred Owre believed the professions of dentistry and medicine should be combined, as he viewed dentistry to be an extension of medicine. He built the School of Dentistry at the University of Minnesota into one of the most prestigious programs in the country by establishing a 4-year curriculum, which required a background in medicine. He also wanted to establish low priced dental clinics, which would provide quality dental care to the middle class and poor. This idea was implemented during his time at Columbia, but was abandoned after a short time because of the opposition of practicing dentists who feared loss of business.
Many of Dr. Owre's ideas were not popular at Columbia. By 1933, Dr. Owre had lost many of his supporters and submitted his resignation on February 14, 1933. He was granted a leave of absence and his resignation was finally accepted on June 30, 1934, at which time he was eligible for retirement. He died on January 2, 1935 in New York City.