COSAM News Articles 2022 May COSAM alumnus and son, pillars in dentistry and the Gadsden community, receive historic UAB Dentistry alumni awards

COSAM alumnus and son, pillars in dentistry and the Gadsden community, receive historic UAB Dentistry alumni awards

Published: 05/10/2022

By: Leslie Leak

Dr. Gordon R. Isbell III, an alumnus of the College of Sciences and Mathematics, or COSAM, and member of the COSAM Dean’s Leadership Council, was recently awarded the 2021 Distinguished Alumnus Award at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, or UAB, School of Dentistry Alumni Meeting in February.

The alumni event was particularly memorable for Isbell as his son, Dr. Gordon R. “Ross” Isbell IV, was awarded the 2021 Outstanding Young Alumnus Award. This is the first time a father-son team has won the two UAB Dentistry alumni awards.

“It is a tremendous honor to be recognized as the UAB Distinguished Alumnus because I feel it is a validation that my attempts had purpose and were worthwhile,” said Isbell. “It is an even greater honor to have received this alongside my son, Ross, who is striving towards the same ideals and dreams that I’ve always held. This award is really about all the wonderful people, my patients included, who have been a part of my journey.”

A native of Gadsden, Isbell served as an SGA senator while at Auburn University and in 1976 earned a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry with a minor in biology.  Following his graduation from the UAB School of Dentistry in 1981, he established Isbell Dental in his hometown where he and Ross currently practice.

In 2015, Isbell received the Academy of General Dentistry’s Distinguished Service Award. He has served as president of both the Alabama Academy of General Dentistry and the Alabama Dental Association and has continued to devote his time to community involvement, his alma maters, and numerous dental organizations.

Isbell has fond memories of his time as a student at Auburn and noted that the chemistry curriculum prepared him well for dental school.

“Chemistry was tough, but it gave me a solid foundation when I continued my education at UAB,” said Isbell. “In particular, I recall my professors, Drs. Stevens and MountCastle, showing a vested interest in my education, and they always challenged us as students to be the best that we could be.”

“During my senior year, UAB reached out to see if I could come there early during the last six months of my time at Auburn,” said Isbell. “My mentors at Auburn were very supportive of me furthering my career, and with their assistance, I was able to start UAB early and still walk across the stage and graduate that summer.”

Well before his time as an undergrad, Isbell formed many childhood memories of Auburn that centered around quality time spent with his father and football – Isbell’s father and coach Ralph Jordan were close friends. One of Isbell’s most treasured mementos is a photo of his father’s last walk through Toomer’s Corner, rolling the trees alongside coach Pat Dye after a win against Georgia.

Isbell enjoys spending time with family - wife Cindy, sons Ross and Timothy, and daughter Frances. He keeps close ties to Auburn through participation in the COSAM Dean’s Leadership Council and frequently attends sporting events on campus.

He encourages students interested in pursuing a career in dentistry to establish relationships with faculty and staff early during their time at Auburn.

“Be dedicated from day one and work hard,” said Isbell. “The director of pre-health professions programs is a wonderful resource. I would encourage students to meet with the director early on and make a point to introduce yourself to faculty members. It’s also a great idea to visit with dentists, see their offices, and spend time shadowing with them to get a true sense of the profession.”

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