New Family and Consumer Sciences Dean Linda Fox has only been on campus since July 6, but already her calendar is filled with meetings.
While some of these fall into the category of the “usual suspects”—Provost Jere Morehead, fellow deans, department heads and alumni leaders—the majority are with the college’s nearly 70 faculty members. And, it isn’t the faculty members who are traveling to the dean’s second floor office in Dawson Hall. Instead, Fox is coming to their offices and labs and has committed to spending at least a half-hour with each faculty member.
“The most important part of my job is meeting the faculty,” said Fox, who joined UGA after nearly a decade at Washington State University, Pullman, as dean and associate dean with both the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences and the WSU Extension program. She also has previous experience as director of the School of Family and Consumer Sciences at the University of Idaho, Moscow.
“Although I’m in the position of facilitating, they are leading the charge in regards to where our college is headed in research, teaching and outreach,” she said.
With only a few visits completed, Fox already is impressed with the innovation under way in the college, such as the establishment of the Aspire Clinic, which brings together faculty from throughout the college to provide services to clients, including combining their efforts, such as in the area of financial counseling and couples therapy.
“These like-minded individuals have come together and invested their time to establish this program,” Fox said. “If they had waited for approval for new faculty to be hired, this wouldn’t have happened.”
While she’s pleased with the initiative shown by faculty, Fox also is aware of the opportunities for expansion that exist within the college.
“The University of Georgia has a lot of assets, and our college has taken advantage of opportunities in public service and outreach, global initiatives and partnerships with businesses and industries,” she said. “But there are many more opportunities and demands for the things we address. I want us to identify our assets and to describe our focus for the future so that potential collaborators will see the benefit of joining with us.”
Fox points particularly to the university’s new obesity initiative led by Cliff Baile, a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar and a professor in both the FACS foods and nutrition department and the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences’ animal science department.
“There are big, audacious, multi-university opportunities in that field that we want to be a part of,” she said.
Fox also noted the arrival of Lynn Bailey, who has been named head of the foods and nutrition department after spending nearly 30 years at the University of Florida.
“Dr. Bailey is internationally known for her research on folate, and to have her as a part of our college takes us to a new level when it comes to identifying funding opportunities,” Fox said.
Although Fox sees the College of Family and Consumer Sciences as having a long list of strengths, she also recognizes the challenges facing both the college and the university.
“With the loss of state dollars, it’s more difficult for students to obtain access to public universities,” she said. “We have to offset that loss so that no one forgets the value of the land-grant university. Not only do we want to ensure students continue to have access, but we don’t want to lose our strong faculty that our reputation is built on.”
As she prepares to spend a third of her time seeking funds—including grants and private and corporate philanthropic support, Fox said she’s already thinking about fundraising goals.
“I want us to think about what would be transformational in what we can provide students and scholars, as well as providing service to society,” she said.
Fox looks forward to meeting with FACS alumni and gathering information from them to help enhance the college’s academic programs.
“The alumni, particularly our recent alumni, provide an important feedback mechanism,” she said. “They’re our checks and balances in regards to what they have faced as they began their careers. We want to know where we delivered and what was missing from their college experience. We need to have a hand-in-glove relationship with our alumni because they know the breadth and depth of our college. They know where our heart is.”