Interim dean gets to work
Dr. Lynne Opperman plunged into her interim dean role at Texas A&M College of Dentistry this month, hosting a town hall in mid-June with faculty and staff and meeting with smaller groups of campus leaders and internal and external college constituents to begin preparing for a lengthy dean-search process that will commence this fall.
“We have a fabulous dental school. I feel a lot of loyalty to this college, and I want to see it flourish and grow,” said Opperman, a Regents Professor and head of the Department of Biomedical Sciences, who joined the college faculty in 1997. A Fellow and leader of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Association for Anatomy, she is the owner/manager of Craniotech ACR Devices, LLC, and holder of multiple patents related to her research. She also serves as technology development director for the college.
In addition to her numerous national and international commitments, Opperman has served multiple terms as speaker and deputy speaker of the Texas A&M Health Science Center Faculty Senate.
“I call myself the squeaky wheel. When there’s a problem I try to help fix it,” she told town hall attendees, who attended in person and via Zoom. Referencing the college’s new building, modified curriculum and content delivery as examples, Opperman said, “We need to assess what is working and look at things that are not working as well for us as they could.”
A review of the college’s administrative and departmental structure, a staff and faculty salary study and a focus on professionalism are all underway. The College of Dentistry is one of several U.S. dental schools currently with interim deans, Opperman said, explaining her desire to ensure “our house is ready” for a successful dean search as one of the “best places” to land in terms of facilities, people and culture.
“I will come to College Station with solutions,” she said. “They know me well.”
Opperman discussed the status of the college’s strategic plan, currently undergoing reviewer-suggested revisions by the strategic planning committee before being distributed to all faculty and staff. “This will not be a document that sits getting dusty on a shelf,” she said.
She also highlighted the college’s status as an important part of a “tier one” institution with a main campus three hours away. “We are the Texas A&M University footprint in Dallas,” she said.
Opperman touts her open-door policy and encourages members of the college family to make their voices and suggestions heard.
“I am privileged to continue the work of our previous deans in building this college to its full potential and am grateful for the trust and support shown from fellow faculty, staff and students at Texas A&M, the health science center and the college as we proceed on this journey,” she said.
Dr. Lawrence Wolinsky stepped down as dean of the dental college on June 1 and is continuing in an advisory capacity with the Texas A&M Health Science Center through August. He holds a faculty appointment as a professor in the college’s Department of Periodontics.