Previous chairs

At the Department of Orthodontics, we are proud of our predecessors. They have helped mold who we are today. We invite you to read more about these outstanding orthodontists and learn more about their lives.

James E. McIver, D.D.S.
Professor emeritus, 1922-1990

Dr. James Everett McIver was born in Roanoke, Va. in 1922. He attended the University of Virginia and received his D.D.S. from Georgetown University in 1945. He served with the U.S. Navy in Norfolk and Germany from 1945 to 1947. McIver received his M.S. in Orthodontics from the State University of Iowa in 1956.

Dr. McIver served on the faculty at the Medical College of Virginia from 1949 to 1957 and on the faculty at the State University of Iowa from 1957 to 1962. He returned to MCV in 1962 and established the Department of Orthodontics at the School of Dentistry.

Dr. McIver was a modest man who did not seek a national reputation, focusing his energy on regional development. From 1963 to 1987 he was responsible for the training of almost 100 orthodontists. The American Association of Orthodontists honored Dr. McIver posthumously in 1993 by presenting him the Louise Ada Jarabak Memorial Orthodontic Teachers and Research Award. Dr. McIver established our legacy and tradition of excellence and quality in clinical care.

Robert J. Isaacson, D.D.S., M.S.D., Ph.D.
Robert J. Isaacson, D.D.S., M.S.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Robert J. Isaacson joined the VCU School of Dentistry as chair of the Department of Orthodontics in 1987 and remained in that position until 2000. Before coming to VCU, he chaired the orthodontic departments at the University of Minnesota (from 1965 to 1977) and the University of California at San Francisco (from 1977 to 1987). During his 13 years that he served as chair at VCU, he energized and inspired the orthodontic residents, staff and faculty to excel in clinical, teaching and research endeavors. More than 50 residents graduated from the program while Dr. Isaacson was at VCU.

Dr. Isaacson pioneered the movement modeling orthodontic residency programs on private practice. The purpose was to give residents a practical experience that they could apply directly to their clinical practices after graduation. Proceeds from the orthodontic clinic could then be used to enhance the orthodontic program itself by providing resources for the clinical, teaching and research aspects. Many other schools have since tried to implement Dr. Isaacson’s model for orthodontic education at their own programs.

Dr. Isaacson taught his students how to think about what they were doing rather than focusing on the technical aspects of how to accomplish specific tasks. The private practice model supported this philosophy, allowing many of the mechanical tasks of clinical treatment to be performed by auxiliary personnel. Many of Dr. Isaacson’s ideas were years ahead of their time. For example, VCU began using digital orthodontic record keeping in 1991, well ahead of most of the specialty. Today, VCU’s clinic is virtually paperless.

Dr. Isaacson has received national and international recognition for his contributions to the profession of orthodontics. He has published more than 100 articles and book chapters on various orthodontic topics including rapid maxillary expansion, growth and development, technology, and biomechanics. In 2002, Dr. Isaacson was recognized for his distinguished contributions to the specialty, receiving the Albert H. Ketcham Memorial Award from the American Association of Orthodontists. He is currently Editor of The Angle Orthodontist.

During his tenure at VCU, Dr. Isaacson always treated the orthodontic residents as colleagues, respecting their input and seeking their ideas to improve the orthodontics program. He approached each new day as an opportunity to explore something different in his quest to take another step forward.