New acting dean hits the ground running

June 22nd, 2022

Dr. Andreas Polycarpou, acting dean of Texas A&M College of Dentistry

With just three weeks in his new role at the helm of Texas A&M College of Dentistry, Dr. Andreas Polycarpou has covered a lot of ground. He’s already held town hall meetings with faculty, staff and students and implemented streamlined administrative processes. While he expects his time as acting dean will be relatively short, he hopes to accomplish a lot.

“There’s a very active, intensive search for our permanent dean,” says Polycarpou, who assumed his new role on June 1. “I look at my term here being as little as three months, or perhaps until the end of the year. My priorities are ‘What can I do in this short period of time that will do the most good?’”

Polycarpou joined Texas A&M University almost 10 years ago, as department head of mechanical engineering in College Station. He came to the College of Dentistry in the fall of 2021, where he has served in a variety of capacities. He came as part of a review team, he says, but has stayed to help wherever needed. This has included serving as the acting head of periodontics and endodontics, and now as acting dean.

“My background is engineering, but I’ve done administration and leadership,” says Polycarpou, professor in mechanical engineering and holder of the James J. Cain ’51 Chair.

“There was a need for a short-term acting dean,” he says. “Since I was here, Provost Tim Scott asked if I was willing to take the lead in the interim period. It was a natural fit.”

In an email sent to the college on June 1, he outlined some of his top priorities. These include conducting a climate survey across the college, finding internal funds for a 2 percent merit raise for all faculty and staff and establishing faculty and staff excellence awards. Polycarpou says that while he serves as acting dean, he wants the people of the college to be emphasized.

“One aspect is taking care of the people,” he says. “It’s not just money. I would like to institute some structures, some events, where people feel valued.”

Other priorities for his tenure include continuing the $22.4 million renovation of the main building, simplifying the college’s hiring process, and identifying and implementing ways to enhance the DDS curriculum. Polycarpou says that he wants to continue building on the strengths of the college, again emphasizing the people who work and study here.

“I care about people,” he says. “The thing I see here is we have a great organization, great jobs. I see the dedication of the people here. There have been some difficulties, but I think at the end of the day an organization is as good as its people. Something I would like to see in the next few months are ways to bring that element of appreciation back.”

Polycarpou took over for Dr. José Bermúdez, who has moved on to serve as interim dean of the new College of Arts and Sciences in College Station.

— Caleb Vierkant