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Getting to know our new dean

Dr. Lawrence E. Wolinsky

Dr. Lawrence E. Wolinsky listens to remarks during a Sept. 1 reception welcoming him as the college's newest dean.

Photo by Steven Doll

Wolinsky shares the details of his work philosophy, what drew him to the college and the pastimes he’ll pursue now that surfing — one of his favorite — is no longer an everyday option.

BDRO: It’s no secret you have spent the bulk of your career on the West Coast. What’s been the biggest transition since you and your wife arrived in Texas?

Wolinsky: Of course, with my long history — 31 years at UCLA — I had to leave many close friends, professional colleagues and family. Arriving in Dallas, my wife, Dr. Amerian Sones, and I really didn’t know anyone and certainly didn’t know our way around. We have been most pleasantly surprised and delighted to find that the city has surpassed our expectations! We are impressed with the ease of travel, the quality of businesses and most importantly, the friendliness with which “Dallasites” have welcomed us. We have embraced this new challenge of discovering Dallas and getting re-established. We look forward to good times with our new friends here.

BDRO: When you entered the dean selection process, you knew relocation 1,400 miles away was a distinct possibility. What qualities does Texas A&M Health Science Center Baylor College of Dentistry exemplify that appealed to you?

Wolinsky: TAMHSC-BCD exemplifies several appealing qualities. These include: a strong commitment to excellence in dental education through support of innovative teaching and research programs; a sincere desire to advance oral health for Texans through clinical teaching programs and community outreach activities; and a willingness of the faculty and administration to work together toward a shared vision and goal. During my previous visits to the college I was struck by the camaraderie among the administration, faculty, staff and students. Faculty members seem to genuinely enjoy their roles as educators and mentors, inspiring the students to become outstanding health care professionals. They encourage and want to see all the students succeed, and in turn, the students want to perform. The patients are the focus of care, and they are the ones who benefit the most from this dental school’s qualities.

BDRO: You’ve been in administrative roles for several years now — most recently you spent three years as associate dean for academic programs and personnel at the UCLA School of Dentistry. What do you consider as your biggest career challenge faced, to date?

Wolinsky: As associate dean of academic personnel and academic programs at the UCLA School of Dentistry, one of the biggest challenges I faced was maintaining harmony among faculty, staff and students during a time of severe budgetary challenges. Conflict resolution in this environment can be demanding even for the most diplomatic individual. I have found over the years that people want to be treated with respect and integrity and want to have their voices heard. I strive to maintain an open forum for expression and try to understand multiple viewpoints.

BDRO: How would you describe your work philosophy? 

Wolinsky: I am a very focused and efficient individual who doesn’t try to multitask. I prefer to focus on one problem at a time and solve it in the most beneficial and effective manner. My friends and family will tell you that I also work quickly and effortlessly. I tend to get a lot done without a lot of fuss or drama, and I always keep busy. Besides that, I have been told that I am a jack of all trades, so to speak, and can analyze problems, make a diagnosis and initiate a plan of action, whether it’s addressing a budget problem, computer issue or leaky faucet.

BDRO: What are some Texas destinations and landmarks on your bucket list?

Wolinsky: My wife and I have already begun to see the sights of Dallas and have enjoyed visiting many of the museums. We also are lovers of the arts and plan to participate in the cultural activities offered here. We are looking forward to the fair and to visiting other parts of the state. Downtown Dallas has so much to offer; we certainly enjoyed the Kennedy memorial.

BDRO: When you’re not spending your days in the fifth floor office at TAMHSC-BCD, what activities do you look forward to pursuing? Are there any rodeos or horseback rides in your future? 

Wolinsky: You better believe rodeos and horseback rides are in store for us! Our cowboy boots were shined up in California and are ready to go. My wife and I have loved the Southwest for many years and look forward to learning more about this state and enjoying its rich history and Southern hospitality. I also enjoy outdoor sports such as snow skiing, biking and hiking. Oh yes, I was an avid surfer in my previous life! I guess I will have to take up wake boarding.