The origins of the UNMC College of Dentistry stem from a private dental college in Lincoln. The Lincoln Dental College opened in September 1899 in the former Nebraska State Bank building, which was located at 121 S. 14th St. in downtown Lincoln. The school was initially associated with Cotner University, a private college which closed in 1933.
In 1902, the college moved to its second home, the upper floors of the Farmers and Merchants Insurance building on the southeast corner of 15th and O streets. In 1903, the college began its association with the University of Nebraska, with a contract which cleared the way for students to receive collateral instruction at the university. In 1913, the college moved to its third home, the Oliver Theater building at 13th and P streets.
The college "had established a solid reputation in its field, and in 1916 its bulletins noted with pride that the Tabulating Committee of the National Association of Dental Examiners had placed the Lincoln Dental College at the top of its standards list," according to a dedication booklet put out when the new building was opened on east campus in 1967.
On Sept. 23, 1918, the University of Nebraska Board of Regents established a dental department under the name University of Nebraska School of Dentistry. At the same meeting, the regents accepted the Lincoln Dental College as a gift from its primary owner and founder, Lincoln dentist W. Clyde Davis, who was also a medical doctor. Shortly thereafter, it was designated as a college of the University of Nebraska.
In 1928, the third floor of Andrews Hall on the City Campus became the home of the college, where it was located until 1967. That year, the college moved to its own new, $4.4 million building on East Campus in Lincoln. The college opened classes in the building in October 1967, and the building was dedicated in November.
In 1998, a $2.15 million addition to the building was completed, the Cruzan Center for Dental Research. Through legislative appropriation in 2009, the building's clinical space underwent major renovations, costing $8.9 million, and a new entry, lobby and waiting area was added.
After considering it since the early 1970s, the University of Nebraska Board of Regents made the College of Dentistry administratively a part of UNMC in July 1979, stressing the strengthening effect that enhanced interdisciplinary contacts would have on the programs of the college.