Human Development and Family Science
Double Dawg grateful to be back at UGA, eager to expand HDFS program
- What attracted you to FACS and UGA?
There are several reasons why I wanted to return to UGA. First, UGA is the flagship university of the state. I applied to position because it was an opportunity to work and grow with a comprehensive Human Development and Family Science (HDFS) program. This department’s excellent faculty study a myriad of developmental, biobehavioral, and relational processes across the lifespan. In addition, this department has Extension specialists whereas several HDFS departments have lost their connection to Cooperative Extension. Second, this is an outstanding department with successful research-active faculty and innovative award-winning lecturers. Third, this is a land-grant and sea-grant university. I understand the land-grant mission and am committed to that mission. Finally, I am a double alum! I have two degrees from this wonderful university and one of those degrees came from this department! I’ve been away from UGA for 22 years, so this is a true homecoming for me.
The constellation of departments within FACS is also very attractive. There are opportunities for research collaborations and professional cross-fertilization. I look forward to working with FACS leadership to mine those opportunities.
- What are your short-term and long-term goals or priorities for the department and college?
My short-term goals for the department include spreading the word about all the career trajectories that graduates of our program can have, meeting all HDFS faculty and staff, talking to our outstanding students and student leadership, and getting to know FACS and university partners so that I may better serve the department and HDFS students.
Long-term goals … We’re still a discovery major and I’d like to change that. I’d like to bring prospective and current HDFS students and alumni together for networking, discover new internship sites for students, streamline our graduate and undergraduate curricula to optimize student experience and keep the costs of a high-quality education at a minimum, and develop more experiential opportunities for HDFS students to study abroad.
If I am able to dream big, I would love to cultivate a viable accredited master’s program in marriage and family therapy with alumni and community partners. When it comes to mental health, there is a critical community need for more mental health professionals in our state. According to the Rural Health Information Hub, 150 out of 159 Georgia counties have been identified as having a shortage of mental health providers. We’re a land-grant institution and part of our mission is to serve our surrounding communities, finding those opportunities to increase well-being among individuals, families and their communities. I want to see the Department of Human Development and Family Science at UGA train and graduate high-quality mental health professionals who return to their communities. Our alumni are high-quality professionals who are critical thinkers and problem solvers who understand that people live, grow and work in integrated systems.
- What are you most excited about in your new role?
There are so many things I’m excited about in this new role. I don’t think it’s possible to name one thing. First, people. I’m excited to be working with such talented faculty who are conducting impactful, cutting-edge research in this department and who are the reason why HDFS at UGA is one of the best HDFS departments in the country. There’s a new FACS dean, Anisa Zvonkovic, and I’m looking forward to helping her bring her innovative vision for FACS to fruition and partnering with my fellow FACS department heads and FACS leadership. I’m excited about listening to and learning from HDFS students and alumni. Finally, I love commencement! I’m always excited to see students cross that “finish line,” trusting that our department has helped to prepare graduates who are ready for a competitive 21st century workforce. Goooo Dawgs!