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Texas A&M College of Dentistry Names Interim Dean for Academic Affairs

Published on Mon 08/09/21
Dr. Kathy K. Svoboda
Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

Today, I am very pleased to share that Dr. Kathy K. Svoboda has been offered and accepted the position of Interim Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, effective Sept. 1, 2021, upon the retirement of Dr. Paul Dechow.

For more than 20 years, I have had the privilege and pleasure of being a colleague, friend and collaborator of Dr. Svoboda, a Texas A&M Regents Professor.   Dr. Svoboda graduated from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in 1982 with a Ph.D. in Anatomy.  She moved to Boston to complete a post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard and became an instructor before accepting a faculty position at Boston University School of Medicine.  In 1998, she moved to our dental school in Texas.  In addition to her phenomenal service contributions to the College of Dentistry, Dr. Svoboda is a highly accomplished research scientist and an excellent teacher of gross anatomy, biochemistry and general histology as well as other foundational courses for medical and dental students.  Her teaching expertise also includes graduate level courses within the fields of molecular biology, embryology, craniofacial development and extracellular matrix biology.  Dr. Svoboda has mentored close to two generations of graduate students, all of whom have gone on to successful careers or additional postdoctoral training. 

Dr. Svoboda has served the greater scientific community through service to national scientific associations for many years. The American Association of Anatomists has been her home scientific organization. As an anatomy faculty member, she has been very active in this association throughout her career by serving on many committees. This led to being elected to the executive board in 1997 and then co-program chair from 1997-2003. She served as the vice president from 1999 to 2001 and was elected to president in 2003. The president elect, president and past president terms are two years each, so she served the American Association of Anatomist until 2009. Dr. Svoboda is also active in the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology and the American Society for Cell Biology.

In the realm of peer mentoring, Dr. Svoboda is the best of the best.  She continuously mentors faculty on how to become better mentors themselves, providing advice on resolving student/mentor and student/student conflicts, and she provides access to a seemingly endless stream of resources for how to do this.  Most importantly, Dr. Svoboda mentors young faculty members from day one on how to balance their duties and to remain cognizant of the tenure “triple-threat.”  This may seem trivial, but the ability to become an excellent teacher and administrator are not skills taught in any formal way in any dental or graduate programs that I am aware of.  Many young faculty members – whether on a tenure track or clinical track – have limited teaching experience, marginal administrative experience, and little experience with conducting scholarly activity and building collaborative research relationships.  Faculty members can waste valuable time stumbling through their first years on the job and may jeopardize their chances of successful tenure and/or promotion by not creating a proper academic portfolio.  Dr. Svoboda is a caring and active mentor to all faculty to ensure they succeed.
It is for all these reasons that I believe Dr. Svoboda is an excellent choice for the position of Academic Dean.  Please join me as I thank Dr. Svoboda for continuing her servant leadership and congratulate her on this appointment.  I look forward to working with her as we continue to grow our college into the future.

Dr. Opperman
Texas A&M College of Dentistry
Interim Dean