Charlie Piper

Assistant Director, Contract Compliance and Administrator Support 2016 Womens History Month

What is your current job title and responsibilities (please make sure we know your College, Department, etc.)?
Assistant Director of Contract Compliance and Administrator Support, formerly Faculty Relations. It’s a small division within Academic Affairs Operations. Among other things, in my current role, I am charged with reducing risk to the university. I participate in the faculty collective bargaining process, act as liaison between units, process faculty grievances, provide advice and support, and uphold the faculty collective bargaining agreement and UCF’s policies and regulations. I am part of a team that is a resource for administrators that are dealing with personnel issues, and as such, I try to facilitate clear communications and help make reasonable decisions for situations that may be delicate.

What is your history at UCF and before UCF? (past job titles, responsibilities)
Before UCF I worked for an association management firm that dealt with precast concrete and concrete pipe companies and suppliers; as an executive secretary/office manager for two different small investment firms and for a small minority-owned civil engineering firm; as a teacher’s aide at a private school whose student body was composed largely of children who had been expelled from the public school system; as a court reporter for a firm that provided those services, and as a flight attendant for Delta Airlines.

Shortly after 9/11 ended my employment with Delta, I began my career at UCF as a program assistant in the Department of Statistics in what was then the College of Arts & Sciences. I was promoted to an administrative assistant position in Academic Affairs in 2004, and in 2005 I was hired as a coordinator in Faculty Relations. I cannot express enough how grateful I feel for the opportunities that each of these positions offered, and the truly wonderful people that I have worked with in every department.

What is your academic background?
I have a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies; a double minor in French and Psychology, and a master’s degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.

What is your favorite UCF memory?
Nothing that would get me in trouble, that’s for sure.

If you could change one thing at UCF, what would it be? ($ and time no object)
Hire more faculty and reduce ratios and give a big push for research? Add more quality workspace and classrooms on our campus, both new and refurbished? Perhaps, if I’m really dreaming…every employee would have their own covered parking space next to one building in which they work. During most of the year, I know that I won’t find a parking space after leaving campus for lunch, so I end up eating at my desk.

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with your colleagues?
I think we’re very lucky to work in an environment where we are surrounded by smart people. I would encourage all of us to reach out and help people working towards a better institution, and discourage the few who display negative behavior. I envision UCF to be the kind of place that has a reputation for its employees for being ethical and collaborative.

If UCF was going to name something in your honor, what would you like it to be and why?
Maybe some sort of “unsung hero” recognition, although I don’t think I’d want it named after me. There are many examples of our faculty who are tremendous teachers and outstanding researchers. We have and staff that go above and beyond, often working long hours to support their team and leadership. On so many occasions I have interacted with people who turn one of my requests around quickly and completely, who follow up with things that may have fallen off the radar, who work so hard to meet a deadline that turns out to be arbitrary; sometimes people drop everything to help me when I have a serious situation and need information immediately. I know that this work is part of our jobs, but I am so grateful for the gems that I run across in my daily life. I hope that these people already recognize how much I value them.

If you could have lunch with anyone at UCF (who you do not normally eat lunch with), who would you choose and why?
I have always been a bit of a science nerd, but I’m curious about everything. I’m sure I would find lunching with the Biology faculty to talk about algae or invasive species or preserving Florida’s wildlife and habitats delightful. I’d like to learn more about communication and what our students are learning in that field, because one of my children has expressed an interest in this field. I am interested in what long-dead people did and why living people do what they do. I wouldn’t mind dusting off my French or learning some sign language. I want to hear how everybody ended up in the field that they chose; what star were they following? I really enjoy talking to faculty about their disciplines when they love what they do. The wonderful thing about our university is that it is diverse in many definitions of the word. I’m pretty sure that I could learn something from everyone here.

Who at UCF would you like to thank for your success?
For putting me on the path to success, I am truly indebted to JoAnne Roche, both for my initial hire here at UCF and for pushing me to apply for a promotion and to Lynn Gonzalez for bringing me to Academic Affairs. I learned so much from her and the others in that department. Dr. Lin Huff-Corzine enabled me to grow into the position I hold today. From her, I absorbed a real devotion to supporting what is right and trying to make changes for the better every day. My current supervisor, Sherry Andrews, has helped me temper my approach and to slow down a little, and I am very happy being the yin to her yang. Ronnie Korosec has taught me more about generosity and waking up early than I ever knew existed. Many, many other people that I work with inspire me with their dedication, thoughtfulness and vision. I have so many wonderful and smart people to thank who make coming to work an honor and a joy. Thinking about it, I suppose that I should thank everyone who puts up with me, really.

Name and describe a teacher or researcher from your past who truly inspired you and why.
My father taught me to read, to appreciate nature, to try to give people what they want if you can, and how to edit a document. I owe him for more than genetics; he is an amazing teacher. My mother has done so many nurturing things to help me that I cannot count them, and I am still learning from her. Now, I feel more than a little guilty for not appreciating them enough for everything that they did for me when I was a teenager. This is probably because I now have a teenager of my own.

What undergraduate or graduate class/program/experience inspired you the most and why?
One of the most inspirational classes that I took was one provided by EOAA one of my first years here. Until this class, I wasn’t sure what to do when I was present and someone made a comment that was racist or sexist or anti-(insert word here). As a young adult, I felt uncomfortable and rudderless when a conversation went in that direction, and by saying nothing, I learned that my silence may have been taken as agreement. That class gave me a voice and let me know that UCF would support me if I pushed back, even against a superior. Thankfully, I can’t recall having to use that power of speech at UCF, but it gave me the confidence to be able to do so under any other circumstances, even to a family elder (that was an interesting dinner).

What is your favorite restaurant or food?
I can pretty much eat my weight in flan and garlic bread. I can consume a legendary amount of food, however, so keep an eye on your plate at all times if you eat next to me.

What is your favorite movie, book or music?
I relish all these forms of entertainment and seek out recommended movies and borrow and share great books. UCF’s Concert Under the Stars is something I try to attend. Sometimes I find it hard to tear myself away from national public radio. I admire cleverness and try to soak up as much information as I can every day, whatever the source.

What is your favorite vacation destination?
Earth. As a child, we traveled around the world, and I have many little favorite places tucked away in my heart. Maine, France, Maui, Rio de Janeiro, New York City, Key West, Las Vegas, Tokyo, Vancouver, Palm Springs, Grand Canyon, New Orleans, Mexico City. I treasure places where I can look up at a super-dark night sky and look for satellites traveling by, and one day I hope to see an aurora borealis. Wherever I go, I want to share the magic with my loved ones. A simple sunset is a thousand times more satisfying with someone next to you sighing, “Oh! Look at it now.”

How are you making history at UCF?
Any day that I can make a positive difference is a good day. When people ask what I do at UCF, I tell them that I help to resolve faculty issues; a problem-solver. I’d like to think that over time, I am making UCF a better place, even if I am just one person out of many trying to do just that.

 

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Linda Walters, Director of the UCF Center for Success of Women Faculty
Linda.Walters@ucf.edu

Fran Ragsdale, Administrative Assistant
Fran.Ragsdale@ucf.edu

Phone: 407-823-4240

Mailing Address
Center for Success of Women Faculty
University of Central Florida
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