What is your current job title and responsibilities?
Executive Director, Initiatives in STEM (iSTEM), a collaborative effort between the College of Sciences and College of Engineering and Computer Science. The purpose of iSTEM is to coordinate the STEM Education and Education Research efforts across the university by bringing together faculty for collaboration, supporting STEM undergraduate success programs, offering K-12 STEM outreach to the Central Florida community, and assisting in efforts for the training and retraining of K-12 STEM teachers.
What is your history at UCF and before UCF?
- 2001-2003 Transfer and Transition Services – coordinator for the Southern Region
- 2003-2012 College of Engineering and Computer Science, Academic Affairs Office – Director
- 2012-present College of Engineering and Computer Science/College of Sciences, iSTEM – Executive Director
- Facilitate the visibility of existing COS and CECS STEM Initiatives
- Expand partnerships with other Colleges and units at UCF that have similar STEM Initiatives programs/efforts under way
- Direct the UCF EXCEL, COMPASS, GEMS, and WISE STEM education programs with the opportunity to expand to other programs
East Tennessee State University
- 1998-2001 Freshman Year Programs – Director
- 1995-1998 Student Affairs, Vice President’s Office – Project Coordinator
What is your academic background?
I have a BSBA and an MBA in Business Management from East Tennessee State University and a Doctorate in Education from the University of Central Florida.
What is your favorite UCF memory?
This would have to be either witnessing my first Spirit Splash in 2001, which was on a much smaller scale at the time, but was still fabulous, or participating on the American Cancer Society Relay for Life leadership team where we were able to work along-side university personnel and community partners to pull together over 120 teams.
If you could change one thing at UCF, what would it be? ($ and time no object)
The silos. Do not get me wrong, I think our university personnel do a great job of helping each other when called upon, but I would love to see more people stepping outside of the boundaries of their own office, discipline, etc. You see this more in smaller universities and even within specialty niches, departments or colleges within UCF, but how great would it be to know everyone working at UCF! (Can you tell I’m an extrovert).
What is one piece of advice you would like to share with your colleagues?
Take every opportunity you can to get to know those around you. You never know when you can partner with a student, staff or faculty on a project that could open doors to your future.
If UCF was going to name something in your honor, what would you like it to be and why?
An academic student center. Really, the students are what it is all about. They are why I do what I do and I love it. We have to remember though that the academics are why we are here so while students are having a good time in college they cannot forget their studies. A place to go where they can find this assistance and a friendly face would be perfect.
If you could have lunch with anyone at UCF (who you do not normally eat lunch with), who would you choose and why?
I really do not know. I have been privileged to meet a lot of people in my tenure at UCF. I would probably have to go with Provost Whitaker. We can still consider him the new guy on the block. With his background in engineering and recent tenure at a strong engineering institution, I would like to hear his vision for our collaborative STEM undergraduate education efforts.
Who at UCF would you like to thank for your success?
Wow, that would be a long list. Most recently I would have to thank Deans Georgiopoulos and Johnson and Associate Dean Young for believing that I could take on this great task of bringing their vision of a coordinated STEM Center to life. We still have a ways to go, but we are making great strides. Also, Executive Vice-Provost Chase and VP of SDES Ehasz for giving me the opportunity to work on the leadership team of the university wide PROGRESS retention and graduation project.
Name and describe a teacher or researcher from your past who truly inspired you and why.
Sally Lee, retired Executive Associate Vice President of Student Affairs, ETSU. Sally loved what she did. I saw in her this passion to work with and serve students, to help them grow, to guide them along their educational path to become the wonderful young adults they were intended to be. I would not be where I am today had she not provided me the opportunity to join her in serving these students.
What undergraduate or graduate class/program/experience inspired you the most and why?
It would be an undergraduate business law class. This class instilled in me the desire to be inquisitive and base my decisions on facts while still looking for creative solutions. I have often said that two non-academic experiences in college made me who I am today due to the leadership experience I was provided: service as a group leader in the welcome week program Preview and two years as president of my sorority. These experiences taught me that I was good at working with others and had the strength to accomplish what I set my mind to do.
What is your favorite restaurant or food?
I love to eat so this is tough! On campus, Qdoba hands down. Off campus, I would have to say Kress.
What is your favorite movie, book or music?
Book – anything by John Sanford; Movie – Sliding Doors
What is your favorite vacation destination?
The beach, wherever it may be.