Maria Bird spends most of her days at her desk with her head down.

Maria Bird’s dedication and attention to detail has earned her the honor of becoming February’s Employee of the Month.
She’s not despondent, unhappy or uninterested in others — just the opposite. But as the business officer in the School of Dentistry dean’s office, she’s typically in her office crunching numbers to make sure everything balances.

So when Bird was informed she had been selected February’s Employee of the Month, she says she was quite surprised.

“Shocked, actually, but also elated,” she says. “I do work behind the scenes, and I’m always buried in numbers. I have a limited amount of people I see on a daily basis, and it feels really great to know that in some way I’ve been able to help others and leave them with a positive experience.”

Colleagues say Bird has had a tremendous impact since she became an employee in 1998 and consistently demonstrates an ability to be a leader within the school.

Ginger Hattaway, director of Administrative & Fiscal Affairs, says Bird’s accomplishment list is long. It includes an analytical analysis of clinic expense, building spreadsheets to trend and track clinic income and expense by department and working with the business office to ensure reconciliation of systems.

Though Bird’s job may not be visible to most, Hattaway says it is extremely important to the success of the School of Dentistry.

“The job Maria does is not a highly visible position, but it is very valuable and affects our operations tremendously,” Hattaway says. “I most appreciate her for the contributions she has made to my office by improving personnel, budget processes and financial processes, including the reconciliation and trending of revenues and expenses for the overall school and enforcing school and university policy. Maria has an eye for detail and is able to identify solutions to problems with little supervision. She is a very dedicated employee who cares about her work, the school and the university.”

Bird has worked as a business officer in the dental faculty practice, clinical dentistry and now in the dean’s office. Her administrative experience in these areas has broadened her knowledge of finance, accounting and human resources.

Robbie Burrell, business officer in the School of Dentistry, says Bird is a hard worker whom others seek out for answers to problems.

“I have witnessed firsthand her ability to tackle complex issues with her pristine analytical skills,” Burrell says. “She always thinks outside of the box and knows the questions to ask to get to the root of the problem.”

Bird has been instrumental in developing a checks-and-balances system to reduce the amount of paperwork that flows through the dean’s office.

She worked with other business officers to set up a system to log the many human-resource documents, faculty-data forms, hire letters and offer amounts. The result is less paper to organize and a more cohesive way to do business.

“I keep up with the progress of these documents and forms, and it’s improved the flow and the amount of time it takes to get things approved,” Bird says.

Bird’s background in the other business areas within the school has made her an ideal mentor to others, says Debra Stanford, executive assistant in the dean’s office.

“Her advice and guidance is often sought on financial issues by all departments within the school, and she has mentored many department representatives,” Stanford says. “She never is too busy to stop what she is doing to help a fellow employee with a financial issue.”

Angela Smith is one of the financial officers who says she has benefitted from Bird’s knowledge. Smith says she appreciates the kindness Bird has shown to her — and her willingness to help when there is an issue.

“Maria is an outstanding leader and mentor to me,” Smith says. “She displays great leadership, high moral character and the utmost professionalism. She always is providing technical advice and assistance to resolve problems for all departments within the school.”

Bird says helping others is something she enjoys, and she knows it’s only going to make everyone more efficient, which will help make the school more successful.

“If I can help someone else with their job, it makes mine seem more fulfilling,” Bird says. “I’m very proud to be a part of an outstanding and dedicated group of people, and it’s a great honor to be recognized by them. I only hope I can continue to find ways to improve my job and theirs.”

To nominate someone for employee of the month, send at least three letters of recommendation to Christina Peoples at or visit