Award-Winning Staff Members
Congratulations to Marissa Heredia (pictured, left) and Rosa Hernandez (pictured, right) for being named, respectively, 2010’s Outstanding Staff Member and Supervisor of the Year!
As the administrative assistant in the Westwood Predoctoral Dental Clinic, Marissa fulfills many roles--and always with a smile. She serves as a go-to person for faculty, staff and student questions, administers the clinic volunteer program, drafts thoughtfully tailored recommendation letters for dental school applicants, manages dental students' lab cases and supports the clinic director. Marissa was recognized for her competence, responsiveness and courteous personality.
Rosa Hernandez ordinarily serves the dental school in the role of administrative specialist in the Advanced Education in General Dentistry Clinic. The school does not recognize a supervisor's work on an annual basis; the awards committee sets the bar high, looking for a person who truly exhibits leadership. In 2010, Rosa offered to step into a difficult situation, rolling up her sleeves to resolve problems when, through a series of unexpected circumstances, staffing fell to only one front office employee in one of our clinics. Rosa ably juggled her regular duties and her adopted ones, demobstrating concern for the patients' welfare and modeling teamwork for her fellow employees.
We thank Marissa and Rosa for their hard work and dedication to the UCLA School of Dentistry.
Transitioning From Litigator To Liaison, Vina Chin Joins the Dean's Administrative Team
Vina Chin joined the UCLA School of Dentistry in mid-February as the new assistant dean of administration and external relations. Formerly an attorney, she handled civil litigation cases--everything from business concerns and employment issues to real estate matters and contract disputes--during her legal career. However, after more than 13 years, Vina felt ready for a new environment and new challenges. Her interest in finding a truly congenial working environment led her to the UCLA website where she found the advertisement for her current position on the very last day that it was live.
Vina was encouraged by the fact that the job description called for
someone with a legal background who had practiced law. It was evident
to her that the school was looking for someone who could tackle a
variety of issues and act as a resource for the school.
These days, Vina is enjoying her new relationship to laws and policies. She sees her role as that of "a liaison, a facilitator between the dental school and campus counsel and the other experts on campus." Still, she has not completely abandoned the legal world as her external relations responsibilities utilize her analytical skills and include negotiating the dental school's agreements with outside entities.
Fulfilling the administrative aspect of her title, Vina also manages the facilities and human resources operations at the dental school. "Litigation is not a social profession and the practice of litigating is, of course, inherently contentious. I'm enjoying the variety in my day-to-day activities and also the interaction with people that comes with working at the dental school."
An Interview With Former Assistant Dean Michelle Popowitz
Michelle Popowitz was a member of the dental school community for
nine years, first as special assistant to the dean and then as the
assistant dean of administration and external affairs. She joined the
vice chancellor’s office as assistant vice chancellor for research this
As special assistant to the dean, Michelle tackled projects such as the annual report, Dentistry Magazine and the launch of the Postgraduate Program for International Dentists. Michelle recalls that she never had a dull day as assistant dean of administration and external affairs, and was challenged until the day she left. We had a chance to ask Michelle a few questions about her time at Dentistry as well as her new UCLA role.
How did your time at Dentistry equip you for this
This is a great question. At the School of Dentistry, I learned about our school and about the campus by addressing issues that arose while I was there. Based on my Dentistry projects, I definitely left the school with more expertise in the areas of human resources and facilities than knowledge about the nuances of research on campus. What I have brought to the table, however, is a departmental perspective of the campus and awareness of central resources (people, systems and applications) across units that I never would have had if my first job had been in a central office.
What are you striving to achieve in your new role?
I want to support Vice Chancellor Economou's commitment to increase research and scholarship across campus. I look forward to supporting new initiatives, introducing new tools to enhance collaboration across units, and developing more innovative ways to increase communication about opportunities and successes.
What would you consider your greatest success to date?
My greatest success so far is the use of CCLE (Moodle) to create a collaboration website for connecting researchers across campus in association with the Transdisciplinary Seed Grant opportunity. I reached out to campus CCLE/Moodle experts who gave generously of their time to help me implement this new site. The new website was featured in UCLA Today. Check it out and register to participate at https://ccle.ucla.edu/course/view.php?name=TSGF.
What do you miss most about the dental school thus far?
This is an easy question. . . the people (faculty, staff and students) with whom I worked -- those whom I saw daily and those whom I saw only briefly in the hallway on a periodic basis. My new office is on the second floor of Murphy Hall (room 2248) in the same suite as Professor Kathryn Atchison. Please visit when you are nearby!