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Rockwell-Hopkins named associate vice chancellor for operations, facilities

Leading more than $1 billion in construction projects, among other duties

by Diane Duke WilliamsSeptember 2, 2021

Washington University

Melissa Rockwell-Hopkins, whose position has her overseeing more than $1 billion in construction projects at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, has been named the school’s associate vice chancellor for operations & facilities management.

Her promotion from assistant vice chancellor was announced by Richard Stanton, vice chancellor for medical finance and administration at the School of Medicine. The appointment was effective Sept. 1.

“Melissa has a rare combination of organizational and people skills that have made her a joy to work with,” Stanton said. “She has adapted to the sometimes chaotic rhythm and pace of an academic medical center while driving a more strategic approach to our management of space and services in support of our key research, training and clinical missions. She has used her excellent communication skills to work with strong-willed leaders in the medical school, the university and the campus and to approach every challenge as a shared problem-solving exercise. We would not be where we are today without her team and her leadership in attracting and retaining them.”

Rockwell-Hopkins, also an associate dean for operations and facilities at the school, provides strategic direction for and manages facilities operations, protective services, capital projects, campus planning, district transportation planning, and auxiliary services. She also leads business operations, district transportation planning, sustainability, critical facilities, lactation programs, and education and support space and services. In addition to managing 534 employees, Hopkins is responsible for operating 61 buildings scattered over 18 city blocks, and an annual department budget of $54 million.

Since she joined the School of Medicine in 2013, Rockwell-Hopkins has significantly advanced the medical school’s facilities and infrastructure. From 2013 to 2020, she successfully oversaw the completion of 1,300 capital planning and construction projects valued at more than $800 million. In fiscal year 2021, Hopkins led an additional $251.4 million in projects; and she, with her team, delivered them all on time and $18.1 million below budget.

She currently is leading more than $1 billion in construction projects, including a nine-story, 659,000-square-foot outpatient cancer facility, an 11-story, 609,000-square-foot neuroscience research building; and a five-story, 191,000-square-foot vertical expansion of the Steven & Susan Lipstein BJC Institute of Health building.

Rockwell-Hopkins was responsible for the development of the Campus Sustainability Program, the Lactation Program, the Feminine Products Distribution Program, and gender-neutral restrooms, and manages these programs.

“We have a large job and a tremendous responsibility as steward leaders,” Rockwell-Hopkins said. “However, we have achieved growth and success from working together in a team-based operation to help others carry out their missions in clinical care, teaching and research. We serve the physical place, but our strategy is focused on people. The dean and department leaders embraced our planning and service models and served as strong, collaborative leaders, as well as partners, and I am grateful to be part of this team.”

Before joining Washington University, Rockwell-Hopkins served in a variety of positions, including as executive director of facilities management at the University of Houston; associate vice president of facilities operations and development at The Ohio State University in Columbus; and regional operations and facilities manager for CH2M HILL, an international engineering consulting firm headquartered near Denver.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in 1995 in law and justice from Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Wash. She received a master’s degree in nonprofit management in 2017 and a master’s degree in human resources management in 2020, both from Washington University.

She earned “Leading Organizations and Change” certification from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass., in 2019; “Women in Leadership” certification from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., in 2018; and a graduate certificate in public health and homeland security from Missouri State University in Springfield, Mo., in 2017. In addition, Rockwell-Hopkins holds an active Society for Human Resource Management Senior Certified Professional certification, renewed in 2021, and certification as a Facilities Management Professional from the International Facility Management Association.

Washington University School of Medicine’s 1,700 faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is a leader in medical research, teaching and patient care, consistently ranking among the top medical schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.