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Employee Profile - April 2010

Dr. Burt Bryan

Dr. Burt BryanAlthough initially he seems relatively mild-mannered, Dr. Burt Bryan ‘79, assistant professor of restorative sciences, has quite a few tricks up the sleeves of his lab coat. 

It is the night of the dental students' talent show on Jan. 29 and Bryan is patiently sitting in the audience during the first act. He appears to be dressed in nothing out of the ordinary - dark windbreaker, jeans and boots - with his guitar propped by his side. Looking closely, however, one can see that he also has a twinkle in his eye and a slight smirk.

Near the end of the first act Bryan slowly makes his way to the stage, takes off his jacket to reveal a loud Texas-flag shirt, straps on his hand-painted guitar, dons his straw cowboy hat and broadens the smirk into an ear-to-ear "Howdy Doody"-style grin. After a couple rousing choruses of "You Gotta Know How to Sprue 'Em," a Burt Bryan adaptation of the popular Kenny Rogers song "The Gambler" with a change to the lyrics "you gotta know when to hold ‘em, etc." (complete with audience participation), Bryan wraps up his performance with a head bow, throws his hands in the air and shouts, "Thank you Dallas ... and good night!"

It is plain to see that there is more to this dental educator than meets the eye.

Dr. Burt Bryan comes from a long line of Bryans in the Dallas area. Have you ever heard of Sonny Bryan's Smokehouse? If so, then you have also heard of Dr. Burt Bryan's father, William Jennings "Sonny" Bryan Jr., who opened the barbecue restaurant in 1958. Burt Bryan's great-grandfather, Elias Bryan, had moved from Cincinnati to Dallas 100 years ago and opened the first Bryan's Barbecue. Burt Bryan's grandfather, William Jennings "Red" Bryan, later opened his own barbecue restaurant in Oak Cliff in 1935.

It should also be noted that the maternal roots of the family tree run deep in Dallas; the Daniel family is one of the first 200 families living in Dallas in the 1840's, and they are mentioned in the Old Red Museum of Dallas History & Culture.

Dr. BryanGrowing up in a hospitality-oriented family business must have paved the way for Bryan's future as a health care provider and an entertainer. After completing his bachelor's degree in zoology at Texas A&M University he knew he wanted to continue his education and be able to "do some good" for others. Bryan says that he has always been a people person at heart and has an entrepreneurial spirit. Dentistry seemed a good fit for him, so he continued his education at HSC-Baylor College of Dentistry.  He married Margaret, his junior high and high school sweetheart, during his final year of dental school and graduated in 1979.

In 1984, Bryan opened a private practice in Coppell, Texas. In 2006, he joined the faculty at HSC-BCD part-time, transitioning to full-time status the next year.

In addition to teaching preclinical laboratories, operative, fixed and occlusion courses, the Bryan hospitality heritage comes into play when he works with the continuing education team at the college. Bryan works with Janea Woosley, continuing education associate, to plan the CE menus. On the day of a course, he acts as master of ceremonies and generally makes the guests/students feel at home while they visit the school. 

"I have been working with Janea and Dr. Arcoria (executive director of continuing education and alumni affairs) for a couple years now and I really enjoy it," says Bryan. "Dr. Arcoria and I have complementary personalities. He handles most of the advance planning while I enjoy being an ambassador to our visitors while they are at Baylor College of Dentistry."

Dr. & Mrs. Bryan
Most likely Bryan won't break out his guitar during CE courses, but he uses it often with the dental students. "It breaks up the pressure," he says. He sings in the labs and the classrooms. Students are treated to Bryan's original compositions, and some tunes even incorporate learning methodologies. 

"I started taking guitar lessons when I was 10 years old and continued on up through junior high school.  I enjoyed writing songs, but not the lessons," says Bryan.

He may not have enjoyed them, but those lessons stuck with him. His musical talents, ability to turn a phrase, carry a tune and warm up a room with his genuine smile are welcome additions at HSC-BCD.