What is your current job title and responsibilities?
I am currently Executive Vice Provost. I am also a professor of anthropology and a Pegasus Professor. I work closely with Provost and Executive Vice President Tony Waldrop on academic affairs priorities like promotion and tenure, faculty development, and educational programs. I oversee the unit called Academic, Faculty, and International Affairs that includes accreditation and program review, the Office of Faculty Relations, the Karen L. Smith Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning, the Office of International Studies, the International Services Center, and the Center for Multilingual and Multicultural Studies. Together we support internationalization, academic program quality, and faculty success.
What is your history at UCF? (past job titles, responsibilities)
I came to UCF, along with my husband and co-researcher Arlen Chase, as a visiting assistant professor in 1984. I was subsequently hired as a tenure-track assistant professor in 1985 and then promoted to associate professor in 1990 and ultimately to professor in 1995. I was awarded the title of Pegasus Professor in 2003. I began working in academic affairs part-time as a faculty fellow in 1999 and subsequently took on a series of other administrative roles in academic affairs including: interdisciplinary coordinator, assistant vice president, associate vice president, and vice provost. I also spent a year as the interim chair of the theatre department.
What is your favorite UCF memory?
One of my favorite memories is receiving a satellite phone call while I was in the middle of the Belize jungle from President Hitt telling me that I would be receiving the Pegasus Professor award. Another favorite memory is the establishment of the Department of Anthropology and the tremendous solidarity and collegiality that followed.
If you could change one thing at UCF, what would it be? ($ and time no object)
If I could change one thing about UCF, it would be to increase the level of funding to match our very high research profile. With more state funding and a larger foundation endowment, we could hire additional research-intensive faculty members, create support for existing faculty to jump-start new research endeavors, grow our graduate footprint, and expose more undergraduate students to faculty-led research.
What is one piece of advice you would like to share with your colleagues?
When I first began my doctoral work, I had the impression that academic careers were composed of a series of logical orderly steps. Since then, it has become evident that all aspects of academic life – whether research, teaching, administration, or service – are important and cumulative. My advice is to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the university community to develop knowledge, skills, and experiences by working collaboratively with colleagues, within and across disciplines, regardless of the task at hand.
What is your favorite restaurant or food?
I love spicy food. My favorite restaurant is currently Thai Basil in Winter Springs. However, I am just as happy sharing tapas with family and friends at home.
What is your favorite book or movie or song?
I don’t have a single favorite book, movie, or song. Depending on where I am and what I am doing, I enjoy changing things up. The song I am humming as I write this is Malgueña Salerosa.
What is your dream vacation spot?
I love the sound of ocean waves at the beach. Any beach will do, as long as the water is not too cold!
What is your favorite sport to watch or participate?
I enjoy any sport where I can root for the UCF home team.
If UCF was going to name something in your honor, what would you like it to be?
While I don’t actually want it named in my honor, I would love to see us develop a PhD in Anthropology.
If you could have lunch with anyone at UCF, who would you choose and why?
I would choose to have lunch with President Hitt. While I have been at public lunches with him, I would like to hear more about his personal story and learn more about what he envisioned when he first came to UCF, how he developed the strategic vision for the university, and how closely we have been able to measure up to his vision.
Who at UCF would you like to thank for your success?
It takes an entire university to help a single faculty member succeed. Numerous colleagues at UCF have helped shape what I am and what I do.
Past president Trevor Colburn, urged on by alumnus Robert Schyberg agreed to bring Maya archaeology to UCF; Frank Juge and Denise Young convinced me to try administration as a faculty fellow; Terry Hickey placed faith in my ability to do both research and administration; Tony Waldrop continues to provide me with new opportunities and challenges; and, as always, my husband, Arlen continues to be my academic and personal soul mate.
Name and describe a teacher from you past who truly inspired you.
Robert Sharer, my dissertation supervisor, demonstrated the importance not only of doing quality research, but also of documenting it through writing and re-writing results so that they came across clearly and succinctly.
What undergraduate class/program inspired you the most and why?
I enjoyed any undergraduate class where faculty members shared their own research interests and experiences.
If you had a “free” Saturday, how would you spend the day?
At least once a year, I like to spend a few hours canoeing on the Wekiva with my family.