What is your current job title and responsibilities?
Associate General Counsel/Associate Provost. I provide legal advice and counsel to the provost on issues relating to faculty; head BOT team that bargains with faculty union; lead compliance office for faculty relations.
What is your history at UCF and before UCF?
Reporter for the Orlando Sentinel; Associate Editor for Charisma Magazine; Free-lance writer/editor; Adjunct, UCF English Department; Law clerk for U.S. District Court Judge Patricia C. Fawcett.
What is your academic background?
B.A. Journalism/History, Florida Southern College; M.A. English, UCF; J.D., University of Florida
What is your favorite UCF memory?
I’m going to cheat on this one and say it is a UCF-enabled memory. In 2006, UCF sponsored my attendance at the Bryn Mawr Summer Institute for Women. Female university administrators from around the country, including Hawaii, spent three weeks living and studying together on the Bryn Mawr campus. We also had a contingent of female academics from South Africa. It was the best professional experience of my life. Each of these women was amazing. We went to class from 8:30-4:00 every day and 8:30-noon on Saturdays, with a heavy load of reading each night. The information provided in the classroom instruction was excellent, but the learning that took place outside the classroom through interacting with these wonderful accomplished women was what made the experience truly invaluable. I made lifelong friends and colleagues. Until the major budget cuts hit a few years ago, UCF sent one or more women each year to this conference. I would love to see that tradition revived.
If you could change one thing at UCF, what would it be? ($ and time no object)
I would like to see the relationship between the UFF and the Administration mature, so that it becomes more collegial and less combative.
What is one piece of advice you would like to share with your colleagues?
I received this piece of advice at Bryn Mawr. Never give away your power. I had trouble with this the first time I heard it, because I am not a person who seeks power or am particularly comfortable with it as it is commonly understood. i.e., exercising authority or control over others. But I started thinking about it in a broader context. We all have certain personal power—skills, talents, personality traits that make us unique. These, combined with our life experiences and values, enable us to contribute in ways that only we can to whatever organization to which we belong. When we hang back or “hide our light under a bushel,” out of fear or insecurity, we are giving away that power. When we do that, we diminish ourselves and deprive others of the benefits of those gifts that are uniquely ours to give.
If UCF was going to name something in your honor, what would you like it to be and why?
I would have said the library but that is already taken. Perhaps a welcoming space in the English Department where people who love books could gather to read, talk about books, share their own writing, etc., would be nice.
If you could have lunch with anyone at UCF (who you do not normally eat lunch with), who would you choose and why?
The provost—with the caveat that any conversation related to work would be off-limits. I find him an interesting, but enigmatic, person.
Who at UCF would you like to thank for your success?
Dr. Beth Barnes. I took my first class at UCF from her and she has been a friend and mentor ever since. I owe a great deal of my professional success to her. Scott Cole has also been a tremendous influence on me. He took a chance and hired me to negotiate with the UFF when I had never participated in collective bargaining before.
What undergraduate or graduate class/program/experience inspired you the most and why?
One stands out particularly. I’m not sure it inspired me, but it was certainly memorable. As an undergraduate, I participated in a study abroad program in Ireland. It was the very first time I had ever been abroad. We lived with Irish families in a suburb a few miles outside of Dublin, which made for a much more intimate experience of the culture. The family with which I stayed had three children and they were, of course, curious about everything American. This was in the mid-1970s when there was still a lot of political turmoil in the U.S. and much controversy over the Vietnam War. The Irish were largely opposed to the U.S. involvement there, so that led to some interesting discussions. However, it was the small kindnesses of the family that stand out in my mind. Our group arrived in May and it was still very cold, by Florida standards, in Ireland. Each night a space heater would be placed in my room about an hour before bedtime to warm it up. It had to be unplugged overnight, but the mother of the family fixed a hot water bottle for me to take to bed. For anyone who has traveled in Great Britain, you know the local food is very bland by U.S. standards. One afternoon when I came home from a day of classes, the mother had fixed a special meal for me. It was a sort of Irish shepherd’s pie that she had seasoned with onions and chili powder. It was actually delicious, and she was so pleased to have been able to surprise me with such a tasty treat. Not everything about the trip was as pleasant, however.
While we were there, the IRA detonated a car bomb in Dublin, killing and injuring scores of people. It was one of the few times during the long conflict in Northern Ireland that bombers attacked the Republic of Ireland. It occurred on a “free day” when we had no classes or official activities scheduled. I had gone into the city with one of my friends for some shopping and sightseeing. We took an early train back to our suburb. It turned out to be the last train out of the city that day because the bomb was detonated close to the rail station shortly afterward. Of course it was international news and our families at home were frantic for information. We were very fortunate that none of the members of our group or any members of our host families were hurt. The bombing had a traumatic effect on our host families, however. Until then, the Republic of Ireland had been largely insulated from “the troubles” that plagued Northern Ireland and they were completely unprepared for the carnage. It brought home to me in a very powerful way not just the fragility of life but, more importantly, the resiliency of the human spirit under terrible circumstances. For the remainder of my time in Ireland, every time I went into Dublin and had to pass a car parked on the street, I experienced a little frisson of fear. I realized that people in Northern Ireland lived with fear every day. I still don’t know how people manage to carry on with normal life under those circumstances, especially knowing that when their spouse goes to work or their children to school there is a very real possibility that they will not come home that evening. Although Ireland has managed to settle its grievances, I think of that when I see scenes from places in the world when that kind of violence still permeates the culture.
What is your favorite restaurant or food?
Like many people, I have changed my diet dramatically over the past 15 years to eat more healthy foods. However, I confess that if there were no negative health consequences, I would happily adhere to what I call the “Elvis diet”—lots of fried foods (including fried green tomatoes), grits slathered with butter or red-eyed gravy, vegetables seasoned with pork, mashed potatoes and gravy, boiled peanuts, etc. I was born and raised in the South and those habits die hard!
What is your favorite movie, book or music?
Favorite movie—The Way We Were. Favorite music—anything by James Taylor, Carole King, or Broadway musicals. Favorite book—tough choice for a book lover but probably Tell No Man by Adela Rodgers St. John.
What is your favorite vacation destination?
The southern coast of Maine, Washington, D.C., or the Cotswold region of England.