History of ACOMS

The Beginning:

Three men met over luncheon in Boston’s Copley Hotel in late 1947, good friends and pioneers in what would become the dental specialty of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.

The American Society of Oral Surgeons (ASOS now AAOMS) at that time was an outgrowth of the American Society of Exodontists. They were a group of men with a widely diverse training and experience with few who were dealing with what were then considered "major cases”; i.e. congenital clefts, malignant neoplasia, TMJ, and salivary gland surgery.

W. Harry Archer, and Herbert J. Bloom listened as Kurt H. Thoma expressed thoughts about the formation of an organization of persons certified by the American Board of Oral Surgery (ABOS now ABOMS).

Dr. Thoma was of the opinion that Board certifications would elicit those persons qualified in the major aspects of the specialty and that an organization of certified Oral surgeons would permit and enhance more rapid growth of the specialty.

Dr. Archer had his own set of problems with both ABOS and the ASOS. An author, distinguished teacher, and humanitarian, he was outspoken and forthright in manner. He was certified by the A.B.O.S. in 1947.

Dr. Archer was critical of the leadership of the Board at that time with regard to such issues as allocation of funds, procedures of examination, self-perpetuating aspects, and accountability to membership. When he criticisms were ignored, he formed "The Committee of 100”. They were in essence 100 Board Certified Surgeons who shared his point of view. They became over succeeding years, the "Committee of 200 the actual forerunner of ACOMS.

In 1964 the concept of a new organization, The Association of Diplomates of the American Board of Oral Surgery (ADABOS), received support. The primary objective was to be the upgrading of the quality of the policies and practices of The American Board of Oral Surgery, (A.B.O.S.) in keeping with the best interests of the specialty. According to notes of Dr. Bloom the newly formed group was not intended to be a scientific organization in competition with the ASOS.

When pertinent issues were surfaced and challenged, the House of Delegates of the ASOS passed a resolution requiring the ASOS Board of Trustees to study and report on the various issues raised. It was anticipated that such an objective study would serve to initiate corrective measures, obviating the need for the ADABOS. When the study was presented it was highly criticized as not having met the goals for which it was created.

A continuing need to effect change led to the polling, in 1974, of all 1600 certified oral surgeons to determine:

  1. The need for an organization of Diplomates of ABOS;

  2. The purpose and goals of such and organization, and;

  3. The name that best described such an organization.

Over fifty percent responded with 2:1 favoring the formation of an organization to serve the needs of the specialty and those so qualified.

The name chosen overwhelmingly was The American College of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (ACOMS), a name that had been proposed by Dr Chester Chorazy of Pennsylvania.

The Executive Committee of this newly named group met first in 1974 during the ASOS meeting in Las Vegas and drafted Bylaws and, upon the advice of counsel began the procedure for registration of the name with the U.S. Patent Office. The need to protect the name by trademark was deemed necessary for the following reasons:

  1. To protect the name and the use of "maxillofacial” from interference by, or confrontation with, related medical specialties also using or contemplating the use of the term maxillofacial;

  2. It was the name selected by the majority of the poll respondents;

  3. The name realistically defined the scope of practice, interests and qualifications of the composition of the Fellowship, and;

  4. There was a need to differentiate from, and avoid confusion with, the ASOS.

The trademark was granted in 1975 and had been registered several years before ASOS. changed their name to AAOMS. At no time had ACOMS objected to their name change.

Several days prior to the finality of the trademark opposition period the Trustees of AAOMS filed an objection to the trademark. Litigation ensued and ACOMS prevailed.

For many people, years of misunderstanding and bad feelings were to follow and be the norm between the organizations. Enlightenment to the reality that we indeed are one family was a number of years away.

The Past:

After the bylaws written by Dr. Herbert Bloom that defined ACOMS were adopted, the first formal meeting was held in Washington, D.C. in 1975.

The elected Presidents for the first fourteen years were:

Irvin Uhler

1975 - 1977

Herbert Bloom

1977 - 1979

John Westine

1979 - 1983

Ronald Vincent

1983 - 1985

Chester Chorazy

1985 - 1987

Gary Lindemoen

1987 - 1989

The idea first proposed by Dr. Kurt H. Thoma in 1947 of having a Fellowship of Diplomates of the ABOS. to enhance and promote expanded growth of the specialty took root about this time. The meetings of ACOMS were notable for the timeliness, quality, and challenge to the membership to expand and improve the scope of the specialty. Many of the early critics of the organization began to turn up at the meetings to listen and later to participate.

The ACOMS being a smaller and thus more nimble organization was able to stay on the cutting edge of the most topical and interesting advances in head and neck surgery. The membership had access to speak with and learn from the best minds in their field. The meetings were held in one lecture hall only, promoting a more focused and enhanced learning experience that still remains desirable. The spirit of fellowship and congeniality amongst the members was natural and is an added benefit to the learning experience provided.

Gradually many of the issues that generated the initial formation of the Committee of 100 were resolved and remain so to this day.

One of the highlights of this era was the quarterly publication of the ACOMS. Review the work of Dr. John Westine. The Review, a newsletter, kept the membership abreast of the transactions of The College, took and published meaningful surveys, and filled the readers' spare moments with wonderful and useful trivia.

As the organizations matured and a larger picture came into view, many of the same people found themselves involved in activities of ACOMS, AAOMS, and ABOMS. There began an increasing dialog concerning the relationships of the organizations. We started to become us.

The Present:

Beginning in 1998, the leadership of AAOMS and ACOMS began to meet on an annual basis to discuss organizational relationships and roles. The dialog has been respectful and productive to the clear benefit of all oral and maxillofacial surgeons.

The Presidents guiding the College in the modern era have been:

Henry Bennett

1989 - 1991

Robert Burke

1991 - 1993

T.J. Nidiffer

1993 - 1995

Steven Kaltman

1995 - 1997

Ronald Lehnowsky

1997 - 1999

Philip Boyne

1999 - 2001

Lawrence Denney

2001 - 2003

Brian Smith

2003 - 2005

Steven Thomas

2005 - 2007

Steven A. Guttenberg

2007 - 2009

J. Thomas Lanka

2009 - 2010

Joel L. Rosenlicht

2010 - 2011

Bernard B. Dreiman

2011 - 2012

Leonard Spector

2012 - 2013

Charles D. Hasse

2013 - 2014

Robert A. Strauss

2014 - 2015

Jon D. Perenack

2015 - 2016

Pedro F. Franco

2016 - 2017

R. Bryan Bell

2017 - 2018

 Stephanie J. Drew

2018 - 2019 

 Kevin L. Rieck

2019 - 2020 

The goals of ACOMS, as envisioned by Dr. Kurt Herrmann Thoma of advancing our specialty by the interaction of our membership, are as worthy now as they ever were. We advance together.