Edward Healy began his career as a teacher and plans to end it that way. Healy is a man who knows what he enjoys, and management isn't it.
"Administration wears on me. I see a couple of challenges, then I lose interest. It becomes dull and boring," Healy said. "Teaching never becomes dull and boring."
Healy has quite a basis for comparison. He was hired just as ground clearing began at UNF as natural sciences department chair in July 1971. He remained department chair until 1979, became interim dean and then dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in 1983, and finally accepted the post of vice president for academic affairs in 1987. In 1991, Healy said good-bye to administration and resumed teaching, which he plans to do, "until I retire or they run me out of here," he quipped.
The students keep teaching interesting for Healy. "They're all different. They're all individuals with their own life to be concerned about," he said. "We make a contribution to the development of that life and bring them to the level where they're ready to go out and do significant things."
A brilliant undergraduate Healy remembers was one such case. "She came with a wonderful intellect but no confidence. It took a lot of effort to get her to the point where she was not too intimidated to do things," Healy recalled. The student went on to complete her doctorate in molecular biophysics and is herself a professor at a midwestern university. The lure of getting to construct a program to provide students with a broad knowledge of the sciences brought Healy to UNF. He was director of a science honors program at Providence College in Rhode Island, supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health. The program combined chemistry, physics, biology and math in an integrated format. Then-Dean Willard Ash had similar goals for the new university.
Getting the program up and running was one of the greatest challenges Healy remembers. "It was kind of nerve-wracking, but we managed to get all the supplies and equipment we needed so that on October 2, 1972 we actually had laboratory classes here," Healy said. "The buildings weren't quite done, so there was a lot of coordinating with companies who had no place to deliver things until the last minute."
Healy expresses no regrets from his 25 years at UNF. "I've loved it here. I've had the opportunity to do lots of different things," he said. "I've enjoyed it immensely. I got to do what I love the most in an environment that's extraordinarily attractive."
In the future, Healy would like to see UNF develop its reputation as an undergraduate institution while adding master's level programs in biology, physical therapy, music, communications and visual arts. "Some of these are pretty far off, but we can make a name for ourselves as an outstanding university," Healy said. "It will take a lot more work, but that's a wonderful road to be on."