One hundred and four years after Penn Dental Medicine alumnus Dr. Arthur E. Corby, Class of 1917, earned his dental degree, his legacy will have a transformative impact on the School’s future. At the end of 2020, the School received an estate gift from his daughter, alumna Carol Corby-Waller, a 1958 graduate of the College for Women, honoring her father—the first $10 million of an anticipated $20 million. The balance of the gift is expected to come to the School later this year.
“We are immensely grateful to Carol Corby-Waller for choosing to honor her father through this transformative gift from her estate,” said Penn President Amy Gutmann. “Her generosity and foresight will allow Penn Dental Medicine, a champion of innovation, to build on its distinguished past while inventing its vibrant future. We are touched by her desire to do good in the world while paying tribute to father.”
“One cannot overstate the tremendous impact of this historic gift,” said Penn Dental Medicine’s Morton Amsterdam Dean, Mark S. Wolff. “What makes it particularly unique and impactful for the School is that the gift is unrestricted, so these resources can help support a diversity of projects as needs arise.”
As an unrestricted gift, the funds will allow the School to seize opportunities that may need seed investment. It comes at a pivotal time in terms of new initiatives. Four new centers have recently been launched at Penn Dental Medicine: The Center for Clinical and Translational Research; The Center for Innovation and Precision Dentistry; the Care Center for Persons with Disabilities; and the Center for Integrated Global Oral Health. Funds from the Corby-Waller gift will help support the growth of these enterprises as needed, and more.
Honoring a father’s passion
Carol Ann Corby-Waller was the only child of Dr. Arthur Corby, Penn Dental Medicine class of 1917. She was a Penn graduate as well, having earned her undergraduate degree in 1958 from the then College of Women. While she had little contact with the University after graduation, it is clear she wanted to recognize her father’s passion for dentistry and the school where he earned his degree and remained significantly engaged during his lifetime.
Entering the Army dental corps of World War I upon graduation from Penn Dental Medicine in 1917, Arthur Corby went on to build a successful and prominent dental practice in New York City until his passing in 1954 at the age of 65. He retained strong ties to Penn throughout his career, notably serving as an alumni trustee of the University of Pennsylvania, elected to a 10-year term in 1948. He was among the small and prestigious ranks of graduates awarded Penn’s Alumni Award of Merit for service to the University and its alumni. Among his achievements, Dr. Corby helped to reorganize Penn’s General Alumni Society and served on the University’s Reconversion Fund Committee and the Bicentennial Committee (1940). In addition, Dr. Corby led the Penn Dental Alumni Society as President (1948-49), served as editor of the Dental Alumni Quarterly, and held a term as President of the University of Pennsylvania Club of New York.
Active in organized dentistry, Dr. Corby served as President of the New York Academy of Dentistry and the First District Dental Society of New York (1951) comprising Manhattan and the Bronx. He was a fellow of the American College of Dentists and the International College of Dentists and was a member of the American Dental Association, the American Academy of Restorative Dentistry, and the Delta Sigma Delta dental fraternity, serving as grand master of its Graduate Chapter in 1944. Dr. Corby also served as the Chairman of the Greater New York Dental Meeting (1952). There, he organized a symposium on the relationship between smoking and lung cancer. That effort stimulated the formation of the Tobacco Industry Research Committee.
Dr. Corby’s class yearbook reveals a record of active engagement while a student at Penn Dental Medicine as well. He served as editor-in-chief of the Senior Class Record and was Corresponding Secretary of the Matthew H. Cryer Society of Oral Surgery. In addition, he was a member of Delta Sigma Delta Fraternity, the Darby Dental Society, and the Penn Dental Journal Advisory Board.
A recently renovated auditorium within the School’s Levy building will be named for Dr. Corby, ensuring that a prominent space within Penn Dental Medicine will bear his name as a lasting tribute.