Change in the air: New leadership roles for two longtime faculty members
Dr. Ernie Lacy’s work as executive director of student development and director of Texas A&M College of Dentistry’s Center of Excellence has given her a unique perspective when it comes to attracting the brightest dental minds to the school and preparing them for success in the profession. Now she’ll continue her work with up-and-coming dentists, but in a slightly different capacity, as associate dean of student services.
Lacy was tapped for the position by Dr. Lawrence Wolinsky, College of Dentistry dean, and assumed the role Sept. 1.
“Dr. Lacy’s background and experience as an educator and student advocate will be a tremendous asset in this position,” Wolinsky says. “When I look at all the accomplishments she made overseeing the student development office and how her hard work helped shape the dental school’s current landscape, I am confident she is a perfect fit for associate dean.”
Lacy is not completely moving away from student development. Under her leadership, the two areas have merged to form the new Office of Student Services and Student Diversity. As such, the office seeks to create lifelong partnerships with current and future dental professionals, and works to support the continued admission of highly qualified and diverse students, Lacy says.
In her new role, Lacy will provide oversight for admissions, records, grading and financial aid, coordination of disciplinary due process cases, and compliance with federal and state laws.
For Dr. Lynne Opperman, Regents Professor and director of technology development, it was the mentors on her path whom she credits with feeding her curiosity and inspiring her desire for more knowledge. As the new department head of biomedical sciences, Opperman says she plans to “pay it forward” with regard to mentoring — something she considers central to success at all steps along a person’s professional journey.
“Mentoring is a two-way process, and we all need to learn how to mentor, and how to be mentored,” says Opperman, who assumed the position of biomedical sciences department head Sept. 1 after serving in the role on an interim basis for nearly a year.
As department head, part of Opperman’s vision is to continue to “grow our own” faculty, cultivating talent from among predoctoral, graduate and doctoral students, while ensuring that current faculty members receive the resources they need to be successful and garner the recognition they deserve.
“Dr. Opperman has mentored graduate students and certainly understands bringing projects from concept to completion, which gives her the ability to motivate those in the department and around the school,” Wolinsky says.
“Under her leadership, I expect great things on the research front for the college.”