With more than 20 alumni events set for this fall, meetings with each of the College of Family and Consumer Sciences departments, a weekend retreat with student leaders plus the annual “Dawgs with the Dean” lunch set for Oct. 30, Laura Jolly has done more than get her feet wet as the new FACS dean. She’s jumped into the deep end.
“I love that I’m learning so much about our college so quickly,” said the University of Tennessee transplant. “Going around the state and meeting our alumni has been a great way to gain a sense of where our college has been and some of the possibilities for the future.”
With less than three months on the job, Jolly already has made clear her support for a new building as a way to enhance collaboration among faculty currently housed in at least a dozen separate locations, increasing the number of FACS Cooperative Extension agents around the state and funding a grants coordinator to support faculty research efforts.
“Construction of a new building has been on the agenda for this college for many years,” she said. “It’s exciting that the board of regents has placed it on its capital recommendation list.”
Although a new building is several years away, Jolly notes that FACS is growing on several other fronts, including gaining space in Barrow Hall, which sits directly behind Dawson Hall.
“When spring semester begins, our furnishings and interiors students as well as their professors and instructors will have a much improved setting with a great deal more room for their studio classes,” Jolly said. “Also, the first floor of Barrow will provide office and research space for three of our foods and nutrition faculty members.
“Moving into yet another building could seem at odds with our dream of bringing our faculty together,” she also said. “But for the time being, it’s essential that our students have adequate space for their classes and that our faculty are able to conduct their research in an appropriate setting.”
The college is also expanding its consumer economics program at the UGA-Griffin campus. The program began last fall with four students, but has grown to include two tenure-track faculty members and boasts a dozen students.
The recent addition of the family financial planning major and the soft goods manufacturing and merchandising emphasis are examples of programs that have been developed with the support of industry partners, a trend Jolly said she would like to see continue.
“Our college has a diversity of stakeholders,” she said. “I look forward to building on those relationships and developing other programs through partnerships.”
Prior to joining FACS, Jolly spent six years as a senior faculty member at the University of Tennessee. From 1995–2001, she served as chair of the interior design department at the University of Kentucky. She was on the faculty of Oklahoma State University from 1983–1995. Among a variety of leadership positions in professional organizations, Jolly has served as president of the International Textile and Apparel Association and on the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences board of directors.
Being a dean is an opportunity to bring all of those experiences together, according to Jolly.
“I enjoy seeing the big picture and how different people and programs fit together,” she said. “FACS has such a diversity of departments, research and outreach programs—in addition to strong relationships with other UGA units and other universities—it’s exciting to contemplate the ways we can expand and strengthen those relationships.”