Professor Iain Chapple with Lynne Reynolds
Professor Iain Chapple with Lynne Reynolds

The School of Dentistry is very fortunate to have a cadre of very loyal and long serving staff. Here we talk to Lynne Reynolds who has recently retired from her post as the School Administration Manger and Wendy Trevis-Smith who has recently taken on the role of Schools Operations Manager. 

Following a career spanning over 37 years, Lynne has worked with hundreds of students and both NHS and University staff. Joining us straight from school, Lynne’s first job was as a junior secretary in Periodontology. ‘Everyone was friendly when I came for interview,’ she tells us. ‘So I turned down another job offer, and my life at the Dental School began.’

‘When I joined, the Head of School was Professor James. Since then, I’ve worked with 8 Heads of School – Professors James, Foster, Brown, Laird, Anderson, Marquis, Lumley and for the last 2 years Professor Iain Chapple. I have fond memories of working with them all.’

Changing roles Lynne’s next job was working for Professors James and Anderson, along with Gill Bradnock, in Dental Public Health. ‘I remember us going to Guernsey and Jersey on survey trips,’ she smiles. ‘Gill and I would haul around an enormous portable computer and the Professors would follow with their bottle of ‘Hibiscrub’ and a box of rubber gloves.’ Further promotion followed, when Lynne was made Curriculum Secretary. ‘I worked closely with Mr Donald Glenwright, Professor Lumley and others helping to re-write, plan and roll out the new BDS curriculum'.

In 1995, Lynne was promoted to School Manager. At the time, she was the first person in any university school to hold this position. ‘My role continued to evolve since then,’ she says, ‘reflecting the changes we’ve seen in the College and the School.’ ‘I never had a typical day, we’re busy all year round, and there are always deadlines to meet,’ Lynne says. ‘As a result, we certainly don’t have a typical routine. I like dealing with everybody here at the School and Hospital. This includes staff, students, patients and visitors to the building. We’re a close-knit community,’ Lynne explains. ‘You soon learn that the decisions you make have implications for all of the people around you.’

‘Dentistry is a small world’, Lynne said. ‘Lots of the staff and students I first worked with have kept in touch with the School. Many of these old faces come back to teach, as they are keen to put something back. When I joined I was the same age as the students of the time,’ she explained. ‘I enjoyed working with them immediately. Our students are very dedicated. We see this every day, as they’re with us all of the time. That makes us unique – many other healthcare students are taught in different places. And of course our students treat patients here too.’ Strong student support is one of our USP’s ‘We get to know our students really well,’ she says, ‘and we’re proud of the support they receive from us. We encourage an open-door policy across the School.’ Of course, it’s not just students and University academics who Lynne works with. ‘There’s always been a good working relationship between the NHS and the University,’ Lynne tells us. ‘The new building is yet another good example of a joint enterprise’ she adds.

Lynne helped organise the Queen’s visit to the site of the new Dental Hospital in November 2015. ‘It was fascinating to see the planning that goes into a Royal visit,’ she says. ‘An enormous amount of behind-the-scenes effort went into making the day a success. The new build was a huge project of which we are all immensely proud’, Lynne says. ‘I’m excited about the opportunities it offers everyone involved with the School and Hospital. It’s closer to campus and our students are enjoying being based in their new home. There’s always been a good working relationship between the NHS and the University, the new building is yet another good example of a joint enterprise’

Professor Iain Chapple – 'It has been a pleasure working with Lynne since my appointment as Head of School in 2016. 37 years of institutional memory is rare in today’s world, but hugely important for any new Head of School. Lynne’s role is an extremely tough one, requiring resilience, patience, good humour, wisdom, an ability to multi-task and have thick skin! I must thank Lynne for her incredible loyalty to the School, its staff, students and our NHS partners and patients, and I wish her a very long and happy retirement.'

Select here for related article in Brum Dentist and pictures from leaving do.

We are delighted to welcome Wendy Trevis-Smith, who has recently taken on the role of Schools Operations Manager. Wendy is no stranger to the university, and provides an insight into her career thus far…

'I joined the University of Birmingham in October 1989 as a Secretary to the Administrative Assistant, Academic Secretary’s Office responsible for providing secretarial support to Postgraduate Admissions.  In 1990 I applied for the Secretary to the Senior Assistant Registrar and was responsible for providing secretarial support to the Registrar’s office.  A few years  later in 2008 the Academic Secretary’s Office was abolished and centralised into the main University campus.' 

Wendy Trevis-Smith

'I loved working for the Medical School and did not wish to be transferred centrally so applied for the PA to the Executive Dean (Education) which was based at the old Queen Elizabeth Hospital in the Robert Aitkin Building.  I provided personal assistant duties to the Executive Dean based in the Clinical Research block, Queen Elizabeth Hospital and responsible for providing support for diary management, scheduling meetings and preparing and briefing the Executive Dean for all of his meetings.  Whilst working for the Executive Dean there were several academic members of staff who took this post ranging from Professor Martin Kendall, Dr Martin Miller, Professor Martin Whittle, Professor Andrew Bradbury, Professor John Skelton and then the title role was changed to the Director of Education and I was given further promotion which gave me the opportunity to support the Head of Education Services and Support and the Director of Education.' 

'The College of Medical and Dental Sciences was re-structured from 5 Schools into 8 Institutes and I was given the opportunity to work for the Institutes of Clinical Sciences and Cardiovascular Sciences as a Senior Institute Administrator providing management support to academic staff across the two institutes with primarily supporting the Institute Manager with HR, and Finance matters. This role was very new to me as I had previously been a Secretary and a PA.  I also had to expand my knowledge and experience in line managing 13 members of staff working across different Units ranging from Administrators to PAs.'

'In December 2017 Lynne Reynolds, School Operations Manager for Dentistry took retirement so this gave an opening for me to apply for promotion and I was successful in being appointed to the Deputy Institute Manager role working very closely with the Institute Manager, Joanna Cope, supporting the Institute of Clinical Sciences which includes the Schools of Nursing, Pharmacy and Dentistry.  I had previous worked as the Senior Institute Administrator for the Institute of Clinical Sciences for two years and had gained an enormous amount of knowledge so was able to put the skills I had into practice and wanted to learn more about Dentistry which this job now provides.'

'When I joined the University all those years ago I never thought that I would be in the position I am in today.  I very much enjoy working for the University and in particular the College of Medical and Dental Sciences.  I love working in a team that is supportive and the colleagues I work with make my job very rewarding.  No day is ever the same, some days are more challenging than others but we all work so well together and get the job done.'

Professor Iain Chapple – 'I am delighted to have Wendy Trevis-Smith join our team and am looking forward to working with her.'