By Ralphine Major
His distinguished career path took the East Tennessee native from Corryton to Memphis for education and training in the field of dentistry on his journey to becoming a board certified oral and maxillofacial pathologist. He taught 13 years at The University of Tennessee and ten years at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, before its closure. The next move took him south to the Magnolia State—Mississippi!
Recruited by his friend, Dr. John Hembree, Dr. Perry McGinnis spent the next fourteen years at the University Medical Center in Mississippi. After Dr. Hembree’s retirement, Dr. McGinnis was appointed Dean of the School of Dentistry where he served nine years. While there, Perry received a well-deserved award that had only been given six times in the last 126 years.
“The Mississippi Dental Association’s (MDA) Fellowship was one of the greatest honors for me. In our 14 years in Mississippi, both the previous Dean of the University of Mississippi School of Dentistry and I, as Dean, attempted to work very closely with the Association as well as with all the practicing dentists in the State,” Perry recalled. “It was the MDA, after all, that had a great influence on the State legislators to open that school in the mid-1970s. Even though there was a brief period in which the MDA supported closing the school, that time passed and we regained their support with two successive Deans who were highly cognizant of the importance of a close relationship with the State’s dental community,” Perry continued. “Too, the number of graduates from Mississippi’s dental school gradually equalled and exceeded the number of practicing dentists from other schools, and those graduates gradually assumed many of the leadership roles in the Association. Still today, dental and other health professionals in Mississippi remain some of our closest and dearest friends.”
Perry and Carol share a treasured picture taken at the Annual Session of the Mississippi Dental Association at Sandestin, Florida, June 2001. It is the presentation of a framed copy of the cover of the Journal of The Mississippi Dental Association (MDA) that honored Dr. and Mrs. Perry McGinnis as the retiring Dean and Dean’s Lady of the University of Mississippi School of Dentistry. Making the presentation is Dr. Kenneth C. Crawley, who was the President of the MDA and practicing dentist from Columbia, Mississippi.