Your browser is unsupported

We recommend using the latest version of IE11, Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari.

Dr. Bradford Johnson awarded department’s inaugural professorship

Dr. Brad Johnson

As a dental student at Virginia Commonwealth University in the early 1980s, Dr. Bradford Johnson, Endodontics ’91, MHPE ’05, knew of Dr. Franklin Weine’s reputation in the burgeoning endodontic field. In fact, Johnson first learned about the specialty of endodontics through Weine’s Endodontic Therapy, a practical textbook used to educate dental clinicians around the world.

When Johnson joined UIC’s faculty ranks in 1991, he developed a professional relationship with Weine, a 1957 graduate of the University of Illinois College of Dentistry who spent 23 years with the Loyola University Chicago School of Dentistry as a professor and director of graduate endodontics. The two often interacted at a local endodontics study club and other professional meetings and events, where Weine’s clinical expertise was often on display.

“Dr. Weine has almost universal name recognition in the endodontic community and among the many thousands of general dentists who trained using his classic textbook in the 1970s through the 1990s and beyond,” Johnson said.

“At a time when there was very little evidence-based clinical research on which to base practice, the expert insights of professionals like Weine were critical,” Johnson said. “It was always informative and entertaining to see him at meetings, especially if he was involved in point-counterpoint programs.”

Johnson’s relationship with Weine further blossomed when Weine returned to his alma mater as an adjunct professor in the UIC College of Dentistry’s Department of Endodontics. There, the two discussed the specialty’s evolution, clinical practice, and student training often.

“He was a kind and generous person who had great conviction in his thoughts,” Johnson said of Weine, who passed away in 2012 at the age of 78.

Now, Johnson, head of the UIC College of Dentistry’s Department of Endodontics since 2014, holds an endowed professorship bearing his former colleague’s name.

Established by longtime UIC clinical assistant professor Dr. Ronald Milnarik, ’67, Loyola Endodontics ’75, and his wife, Pauline, the Dr. Franklin S. Weine Endowed Professorship is the first endowed position in the Department of Endodontics and a particularly meaningful honor for Johnson to receive.

“We decided to provide this gift because we wanted to support my dental school, to honor Dr. Weine, and to further bring together UIC and Loyola alumni, since Dr. Weine and I had ties to both schools,” Milnarik explained. “We were both alumni of UIC, he taught at Loyola for 23 years before coming back to UIC to teach, and I was one of his endodontics students at Loyola.

“It makes me feel fantastic to recognize and honor Dr. Weine this way,” Milnarik said.  “If others would like to join Pauline and me in honoring the legacy of Dr. Weine, we would welcome their support and participation. The wonderful thing about an endowed faculty position is that the more we grow the fund, the more resources the Department of Endodontics will have in the future.”

“Dr. Weine was someone I admired and considered a friend, which makes my being the first individual to hold this endowed position extra special for me,” said Johnson, who began his four-year appointment as the Weine Endowed Professor on January 1.

Johnson called the endowed position created by the Milnariks “a big honor for the UIC College of Dentistry and, especially, the Department of Endodontics,” bringing pride and prestige to a small department with a reputation for big impact. The department provides all endodontic training to the more than 400 pre-doctoral students enrolled at the College in addition to 10 residents in its two-year post-graduate endodontics program.

Dean Susan Rowan nominated Dr. Johnson for the professorship. “The University of Illinois Chicago is committed to the tradition of endowed professorships, which signify distinction beyond a normal professorship. The contributions that Dr. Johnson has made has advanced the college and university in many ways. He has been committed to the advancement of education, research, service, scholarship and clinical excellence during the 32 years he has served the college, university and his profession. He is well deserving of the recognition awarded to an individual who has distinguished himself so admirably,” said Rowan.

“The endowed professorship puts our department on more equal footing with others at the college and across UIC, while demonstrating to people both in and outside of UIC that our department does important work,” said Johnson, adding that the department currently has four full-time faculty, eight part-time faculty, and about a dozen volunteer faculty members.

As the inaugural Weine Endowed Professor, Johnson gains access to financial resources he can direct to research, programming, training, or student support. While Johnson has yet to determine specific plans for the endowed position’s funding, he said he’s energized by the ability to purchase advanced technology for the clinics, elevate the student experience, or expand his own research program, which largely focuses on evaluating new technologies and materials in endodontics and improving clinical outcomes.

“There are a lot of exciting possibilities here, but I know I want funding to go to efforts that are meaningful and measurable, so the impact can be clearly seen,” Johnson said.

Down the line, the Weine Endowed Professorship can have an even greater impact on the department, according to Johnson. It could be used as an inducement to recruit or retain high-quality faculty and spur innovations in research, clinical practice, and student learning.

“There’s no question this can add to the reputation of the UIC College of Dentistry and the Department of Endodontics,” Johnson said. “It’s encouraging and a sign of faith in our department’s work and its future.”