By Academic News and Insights - May 29, 2018

Esther Valenzuela, the new School of Dentistry Assistant Dean of Student Affairs

Esther began her 35-year career as the residence hall dean at La Sierra College in 1985. Many will remember that this was when La Sierra College and Loma Linda University were one school. In 1990 Esther assumed the duties as the Director of Admissions & Student Affairs for LLU’s School of Nursing and then continued as the Nurse Manager in 1996. From 2006 until the present she has been serving in the school of dentistry as the Director of Admissions & Recruitment. When asked by ANI what she did to prepare and position herself for promotion, she credited her pursuit of higher education. Esther holds two master’s degrees.  “They have helped expand my knowledge and awareness regarding the resources available,” she commented, “They also expanded my perspectives on human behavior and problem solving. An unexpected outcome of pursuing higher education was the realization of how little we know compared to the vast knowledge that exists.” Esther also shared how she lives out LLU’s mission of wholeness by taking time each day to exercise, using the stairs instead of the elevator, walking 6-10 miles per week, engaging in stretching, floor exercises and lifting free weights. It is important to her to spend time each day in reflection, meditation and prayer. Esther also shared the importance of relationships as she takes time each week to connect with her family and friends.


Mark Estey – the new School of Dentistry Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs

Mark started his dental career as a freshman dental student in 1994 and began working as a part-time faculty member in night clinics following his graduation in 1998. By the fall of 2001 he was a fulltime member of the faculty and started teaching RPD design. In 2005 he advanced to section chief of Removable Prosthodontics where he served until assuming the role as Director of the International Dentist Program in 2015.

When ANI asked Mark on how one could best prepare for promotion he responded, “Do your best to truly hear both sides, and be willing to listen to both.” He added, “be passionate about your work place, love what you do.  Be willing to take a stand.” Mark is very clear on his mission of living out wholeness. When asked by ANI to answer this question he stated, “The most important things in my life are my wife and my kids. I think it is important for everyone to have a connection at church and a church family and also a work family. But my family is where I want to be outside of my duties and responsibilities at LLU. Whether it is a mountain biking race, a swim meet, a water polo match, spending time with my kids, or trying, in all the chaos, to spend a few moments with my wife, those are what matter most in my life. I have to carve out time for my family. I also make sure I get outside, whether that is at one of my kid’s events or a round of disc golf, God’s nature is just too beautiful to not experience.”

Rob Handysides, the new Dean of the School of Dentistry

Rob first began his instructional career in oral surgery during the years of 1993-94 and then resumed as an instructor in Oral Pathology and Diagnosis in 2000. From 2001-2008 he was an Assistant Professor, Department of Endodontics as well as the Director, Loma Linda Faculty Endodontics from 2003-2013. During his time at LLU he has served as Associate Professor, Faculty of Graduate Studies, Associate Professor, Department of Endodontics, Chair, Department of Endodontics, Associate Dean, Advanced Dental Education, and Associate Dean, Academic Affairs. This strong leadership background has positioned him well as he takes on the senior leadership role at the school. When ANI asked Rob, what were the best things professionally that he could recommend to our readers to prepare and position oneself for promotion he relayed the following: “I believe the best thing I did was to bring energy, passion and a positive attitude to whatever job I was assigned. No job is too small or insignificant to not be done well and to the best of one’s ability. This enthusiasm becomes infectious, where it motivates and energizes others with whom you interact and leads to accomplishing the goals and objectives set in an effective and efficient manner. When positive performance is noted, additional responsibilities tend to follow.”

How does Rob live out LLU’s mission of wholeness for himself? He states, “To me the core of wholeness equates to building healthy relationships in life. 1 Corinthians 13 expresses it so well, emphasizing the need for hope, faith and love but stressing love. These relationships create the hub of my well-being and fall into the categories of spiritual, personal, and professional. When these key relationships are in place and solid, the rest of my wholeness (mind, body, emotions, social, and spiritual) seem to expand. Things like integrity, optimism, choices, temperance, rest, nutrition etc. are not forced tasks, but rather eagerly embraced activities that result for me in a whole, joyful and healthy lifestyle.”

Please join with us all in welcoming these amazing talented individuals to their new roles at Loma Linda University!