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InsideJuly 2020

Around Campus

Shared responsibility will be key for safe campus return

University of North Florida

New UNF guidelines requiring masks, a mix of in-person and online class formats, social distancing in classrooms, self-checks and other policies and procedures have been approved by the Florida Board of Governors for the fall 2020 semester.

UNF’s Draft Blueprint, which was developed by UNF’s COVID-19 Task Force in tandem with state and local medical experts, includes details on many aspects of campus life, yet will remain flexible to adjust to changes in the pandemic. 

Shared responsibility will be key to a successful return, President David Szymanski told the Board of Governors during his presentation June 23. “So it really is everybody working together to keep everybody safe,” he said. “It’s not only, ‘What are you going to do for me,’ it’s also, ‘What I’m doing for you’ and back and forth.” Equally important will be ongoing education to keep pace with new developments and to help people change their behaviors, the president said.

Szymanski also emphasized that the plan includes flexibility. “We’re going to give faculty the option to choose. We’re going to give students the option to choose, so that everybody feels comfortable," he said. Contingency plans also will be developed for transition to fully remote courses in the event of a second wave of COVID-19.

Here are more details from the draft blueprint:

  • The semester dates will not change, beginning Aug. 17 and ending Dec. 11; however, after Thanksgiving, due to expected holiday travel, all courses will shift to entirely remote instruction to conclude the semester.
  • All faculty, staff, students and anyone else on UNF’s campus must wear a mask in all indoor and outdoor areas at all times. Employees working alone in their offices and students who are alone in a room are the only exceptions at this time.
  • All faculty, staff and students will undergo mandatory safety training as well as training on how to maintain a healthy environment. University communications, signs and social media will reinforce safety messages.
  • Daily screening via an app will be required for faculty, staff, students, vendors and campus visitors.
  • Cleaning protocols will be enhanced based on CDC requirements and hand sanitizing stations placed across campus.
  • Student Health Services will work closely with the Florida Department of Health and local healthcare partners to plan and execute screening, testing, and contact tracing procedures.
  • UNF also will work closely with faculty, staff and students who identify themselves as higher risk. This may include modifications to schedules, minimizing presence on campus, remote work, or remote instruction and learning.
  • UNF has developed occupancy guidelines for residence halls that will limit the number of people in bedrooms and restrooms and will reconfigure common areas to further promote social distancing. In addition, UNF will reserve space for students who need to quarantine.
  • The full array of student services and engagement activities will continue through a combination of on-campus and remote platforms, prioritizing the health and wellness of the campus community.
  • Large social events and activities will be restricted, and there will be no study abroad in the fall semester.

To read the full plan: Visit UNF’s website

Around Campus

Meyer steps into role as VP, Chief Diversity Officer

Whitney Meyer, VP, Chief Diversity Officer

Whitney Meyer began in early June as VP and Chief Diversity Officer, a first-ever position at UNF. Here are a few things she shared that you may want to know.

What are the responsibilities of this role?
Whitney Meyer sees the new position as one of several new initiatives underway to support diversity and inclusion throughout the campus community. Though the title is new, the work is not, said Meyer, explaining that she has met many faculty and staff as well as engaged students who are already doing great work to improve diversity and inclusion. “It is truly a team effort that I have been asked to coordinate," Meyer said. "Making the campus a better place for everyone will require a unified effort. This is certainly bigger than any one person. To successfully implement change, I will need to bring together all of our campus experts.” During her first few weeks on the job, Meyer has been talking with faculty from various college departments and is now working to create a campus survey to gather information on campus diversity efforts. “During these first 30 days, I want to learn what groups are doing so we can find a way to unify our efforts,” she said. “Our senior administration and governing boards are taking this seriously, and I feel I have a great deal of support. We all want the best for people on this campus, and I’m very proud of the University for making this role happen.”

What other initiatives will be part of this role?
As Chief Diversity Officer, Meyer will be advising University leadership on diversity, inclusion and racial equity pertaining to strategies and policies, learning and research, community relations and the recruitment, retention and admission of faculty, staff and students of color. She will also provide leadership on the University’s new coordinated model for diversity and inclusion, which Meyer has been involved with since November 2019. “We’ve been working on a strategic inclusive excellence model and action plan,” Meyer said. “The next phase, beginning in July, will be to meet with the people who will be implementing the plan ― deans, department chairs, admissions staff ― to get their thoughts and find ways to measure these action plans.” Meyer called the plan a living document that is the culmination of a great deal of time and resources, and the committee wants to see it working as effectively as possible. Meyer also will oversee the Commission on Diversity and Inclusion, Department of Diversity Initiatives, LGBT Resource Center and OneJax.

What about campus anti-racism training?
Meyer said that many people have questions about developing anti-racism training. During her initial weeks, she and others will be looking at available resources on campus. Ideally, Meyer would like to find some initial training that incoming students could watch or read prior to coming to campus, as well as added training during orientation and later a cohesive plan developed with faculty and staff. “We will also look forward to supporting many student-led programs and clubs,” Meyer said. “Our students are our future leaders. It’s imperative to add them to this conversation. Let’s make sure we partner with them to help us lead the way.”

What other positions have you worked in at UNF?
Most recently, Meyer managed the successful launch of two new programs — the Community Alliance for Success (CASS) Program and the Fearless Woman initiative. The CASS program aims to ensure that underrepresented students have opportunities to thrive at UNF and to become successful business and community leaders in Jacksonville and beyond. The Fearless Woman initiative strives to prepare UNF’s next generation of women leaders. Both CASS and the Fearless Woman programs bring traditionally separated groups of people together to promote a shared sense of pride and community for UNF and Jacksonville. As an undergraduate student, Meyer worked in various departments including the Military and Veterans Resource Center, Student Union Administration, Alumni Affairs and Public Relations. Before joining UNF, she worked for Georgia State University creating and managing new corporate partnerships in the Alumni Office.

What is something people might not know about you?
Meyer describes herself as a “Jacksonville native with a family history in this great city as long as the St. John’s River.” She is also a proud resident of Avondale, where you’re likely to see her walking to her favorite neighborhood brunch spots with her family. Meyer is a UNF alumna with a Master of Science in Management from the Coggin College of Business and a bachelor’s focusing on communication and international relations.

Around Campus

Welcome to our New Coggin Dean

Dr. Richard Buttimer, dean of Coggin College of Business

Dr. Richard Buttimer Jr. began in his new role as dean of the Coggin College of Business at the end of June. He spoke with us via Zoom just prior to his move from North Carolina to share a few things you may want to know about him.

Tell us about your previous job.
Richard Buttimer is joining UNF after 18 years at the Belk College of Business at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, a public university with an enrollment of about 30,000. He said he’s worked in a variety of positions over the years, first as a faculty member and later honored as the John Crosland Sr. Distinguished Professor in the Department of Finance. Most recently he worked as the interim senior associate dean for the Belk College. Prior to the interim position, as full-time senior associate dean for more than six years, Buttimer said he was involved in all aspects of the internal workings of the College, which has about 4,700 business students and 120 faculty members.

For the past three years Buttimer also served as director of the Childress Klein Center for Real Estate, which is an applied research and outreach arm of the Belk College that administers several masters programs in real estate finance and development. “It also has a large external component including a 40-member advisory board comprising all of the area’s major development companies and really anyone related to real estate in the Charlotte region,” he said. The work directly related to his primary areas of academic research, which include mortgage finance, real estate development and housing markets.

Why UNF?
Buttimer said he was attracted to the growth potential of UNF as well as the vision of its administration. “President Szymanski and Provost Rhodes talked about a vision of UNF becoming a R2 institution and, as outlined in the UNF Strategic Plan, a top 100 Public University, and Coggin College will be a part of that,” Buttimer said. “If you look at every major city in the country that has started to reach the 2 million mark of population, they all have a great university and a great business school. Clearly UNF will be that for Jacksonville as it continues to grow.” In some ways, it’s a journey he has already taken at UNC Charlotte, which has risen over the years from a master’s university to an R2 research university and is now on the brink of reaching R1 status, according to Buttimer. “The path is similar to UNC Charlotte, as UNF begins the transition,” he said. “UNF is located in a rapidly growing city and the university itself is growing, so it’s really exciting.”

What will your new role involve?
Among the many aspects of the position, Buttimer sees his primary focus as strengthening and enhancing the existing connection between Coggin and the business community. “My view is that my job is really to be out in the community working hard not only to represent Coggin, but also to explain to the community what we already do and what we can do to help the business community,” he said. In fact, he’s already begun talking with business leaders who say they want to partner with the University, so he believes there will be many opportunities to grow relationships. He also believes the College will at some point need to look at providing doctoral education for the area.

Are you new to Jacksonville?
While a student at the University of Georgia, Buttimer said he traveled to Jacksonville to attend Georgia-Florida football games. He was raised in Milledgeville, Georgia, just outside of Macon and his extended family is from Savannah, so he has visited the area many times over the years. “I always liked Jacksonville, so I’m happy to be here,” he said. In addition to enjoying the city, Buttimer is looking forward to riding his bike in the area. “I do a lot of road cycling, so I’m really looking forward to being in part of the country where the roads are flat, so I don’t have to go up any hills,” he said. His wife, Shirley Wright, will also be joining the University. She will begin teaching Spanish in January in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Culture in the College of Arts and Sciences.

And there’s more …
Prior to his tenure at UNC Charlotte, Buttimer was an associate professor of finance and real estate at the University of Texas at Arlington, located between Fort Worth and Dallas. He holds a doctorate in business administration and a bachelor of finance from the University of Georgia.

Around Campus

A Virtual Candlelight Vigil for Racial Justice

Virtual Vigil participants on Zoom


The University of North Florida hosted "Be the Change: A Virtual Candlelight Vigil for Racial Justice" to reflect on the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, and honor the memories of all victims of racial injustice. OneJax and the UNF Interfaith Center took the lead in planning the vigil with UNF administration. Participants, including President Szymanski and the First Lady, shared their personal reflections, their heartbreak and their hope for the future.

During the vigil, President Szymanski reaffirmed UNF's commitment to a safe and inclusive environment and announced the appointment of alumna Whitney Meyer as vice president and chief diversity officer, a newly created position at UNF. He also shared that the University will now require anti-racism training for new students. The virtual vigil was live streamed on UNF's Facebook page and is available on UNF's YouTube page.

Get to Know

Manny Velasquez-Paredes

Manny Velasquez-Paredes headshotDirector, LGBT Resource Center

What do you do at UNF? I oversee the day-to-day operations at the LGBT Resource Center. I am in charge of making sure that we are providing services and events for our LGBTQ+ students, faculty, staff and the Jacksonville community at large. I see my job as providing a voice and being an advocate to represent the LGBTQ+ community as well as providing a safe space.

What do you enjoy about working here? From the first time I stepped on the UNF campus, I felt such a vibrant and positive energy. I remember mentioning this feeling during my onsite interview. I knew UNF had to be in my future, and I have been welcomed with open arms into the Osprey family.

How long have you lived in Jacksonville? Where else have you lived? I was born in Peru, raised in Miami and moved to New York City in 2003. Earlier this year, I made the move to Jacksonville, so I’ve only been here for almost five months.

What one memory do you most treasure? I have so many memories I treasure in my short time at UNF. The day I flew down from New York for my in-person interview is among my most treasured memories. The energy I felt from the campus and everyone I met filled me with so much joy that, as I was ending my day of interviews, I almost lost my flight back because I was so engaged in conversation during the interview. I remember running all the way from the parking garage to the door of the plane. I could hear them calling me over the loudspeaker as I was passing through security. All I did was grab my bag, briefcase and my shoes in hand and ran all the way from security to the door of my plane. As soon as I walked in, they closed the door. It was an unforgettable experience, because it set the tone for my new adventure at UNF: fast, exciting, overcoming obstacles and successful.

If you could have a dinner party and invite any four people, from the past or present, who would be on your guest list? I would invite President Barack Obama, because he is such a great leader that I would love to pick his brain and learn from his experiences. On my list, I would also include Maya Angelou since I love poetry and, to me, she always appeared to be an enlightened being. I would also invite Marsha P. Johnson because she is often credited with being the drag queen who threw the first “brick” that sparked the Stonewall Riots, thus creating the current LGBTQ movement. Lastly, I would invite my mother, because it would be a dream to have her in my life once again and to hold her again. My mother passed away in 2003, which is the reason I decided to move to New York, as a way to escape.

If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be? I would love to be a professor and teach a Queer Studies program. LGBTQ History is not taught in schools and is hardly ever mentioned. Therefore, the opportunity to teach that history and to unravel the mysteries of the LGBTQ+ community would be a powerful and moving experience.

What superpower would you like to have? How would you use it? I often tell people that my superpower is “to make things pretty.” What I mean is that I look at projects at work, analyze them and then look for ways to elevate them to the next level. I am a strong believer in challenging myself and always trying to outdo myself. We can be our worst enemies, and we can be our loudest bully, so the ability to challenge ourselves to be better is a superpower indeed.

If you ruled the world, what would you change on Day 1? I would want everyone to be treated equally and seen as potentials, instead of threats. Many times, we may feel that because it’s 2020, we are “woke” and “we are all equal,” but as we have seen time after time, that is not the case. Having the ability to change this would be a welcome change for everyone, regardless of our personal traits.

What would be the title for the movie version of your life? If there were a movie about my life, it would have to be called: The Change Agent, because of my superpower to “make things pretty.” I look for everything around me to always change and improve. I am strong believer that changes are always positive. If there is no change, we are stagnant. Some people may be afraid of change, but change is necessary for us to evolve.

What’s at the top of your bucket list? At the top of my list is to meet and talk with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. They are such inspirational people, who seem to be very real and approachable. I would love to learn from them and to tell Mrs. Obama that her book “Becoming” has not only inspired me, but calmed down some of my anxieties.

What one food do you wish had zero calories? I’m a firm believer that when on vacation, everything you eat has Zero Calories! Sushi … sushi is always zero calories!

Tell us something that might surprise us about you. I have had many facets of my life and have played different roles. I was an actor, I was in arts administration, I’m a mentor, often mentee, I’m an award-winning travel journalist, a career advisor, and so much more, but my most important are husband and dad.

Where would you like to go on a dream vacation? Paris is my favorite city in the world. No doubt about it. I’ve been there several times, and I’ll never forget my first time, because I felt that I belonged there.

Tell us a few of your favorite things.

Board game: Scrabble
Magazine: Connextions Magazine
Physical activity: Bike riding
Quote: “The true profession of a man is to find his way to himself.” Hermann Hesse
Season: Halloween

Around Campus

LGBT Resource Center provides virtual support during Pride Month

LGBTQ flag

Every June, the LGBTQ community holds events throughout the nation to celebrate diversity, acceptance and self-pride. Designated as Pride Month, the annual events commemorate the start of the LGBTQ movement more than 50 years ago with the Stonewall uprising in June 1969 in New York City.

At UNF, Pride Month is an opportunity to honor the impact LGBTQ people have made on our campus as well as locally, nationally and globally. Though group gatherings were not possible during the pandemic, the LGBT Resource Center presented virtual support groups, the “Loud Lounge (what’s the tea?),” “Motivational Music Monday” and “Teachable Tuesday.” “Loud Lounge” and “Queers & Cake” create a safe space for students to discuss their struggles in the community and to virtually feel connected. During Pride Month, different keynote speakers presented over Zoom to motivate students to be proud and celebrate their unique identities.

Manny Velásquez-Paredes, the new director of UNF’s LGBT Resource Center, said that Pride Month served as a platform to educate, raise awareness and elevate important conversations about LGBTQ identities and experiences of the Osprey community. He also took to Zoom to make several presentations to organizations around the area. Florida Blue invited him to make two presentations regarding pronoun guidelines and creating an Ally culture in order to create a more inclusive workforce. He also presented to two additional groups on LGBTQ culture and history and preserving your LGBTQ identity in a pandemic.

Pride Month also marked an historic ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. On June 15, the Court ruled 6-3 in a decision that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects gay, lesbian, and transgender employees from discrimination based on sex. Velásquez-Paredes sees the ruling as making a huge stride against discrimination and hopes to see more change. “We must stand together, we must be heard, so we can create the change needed and not just standby and record the injustices when we see them,” he said. “We must make the words ‘liberty and justice for all’ ring so loudly that those looking to oppress or harm anyone because of the color of their skin or their gender identity will not have a choice but to change or hide again in their sinkholes.”

Mara Schreiber, a recent graduate from UNF, said the LGBT Resource Center always served as a safe space. Schreiber said the Center has been handling today’s civil rights issues along with motivating students in the LGBT community during Pride Month. “The LGBT Center was a great place for me to spend my free time,” Schreiber said. “I’m so glad that I had a place where everyone accepted me in everything I did.”

The Center hopes to welcome back in-person activities this fall such as Coming Out Week in October.

Around Campus

UNF receives highest performance metrics score to date

Happy UNF graduate at CommencementThe State University System of Florida recently released its performance-based metric numbers for the year, and the University of North Florida has received its highest score to date!

UNF’s score rose from 78 total points last year to 83 this year and has improved a total of 25 points since 2017, the biggest increase of all schools in the State University System during that time. UNF met or exceeded its annual goals on eight of the 10 metrics this year. Highlights include:

  • Being the only SUS school to increase its student access rate
  • Elevating the four-year graduation rate by 6 percentage points, the second-highest increase in the SUS
  • Increasing graduate degrees in areas of strategic emphasis
  • Improving the first-year retention rate 
  • Raising starting salaries for bachelor’s graduates 
  • Increasing bachelor’s degrees in strategic emphasis 

“The improvement in the graduation rate is nothing short of amazing,” said Jay Coleman, vice president of data analytics. According to Coleman, the rate has risen 18.4 percentage points over the past five years. “That’s one of the largest increases among public institutions in the United States,” he said.

The Board of Governors also recognized UNF for high scores in:

  • Percent of bachelor’s graduates employed or enrolled one year after graduation
  • Median wages of bachelor’s graduates employed full-time one year after graduation
  • Average cost to the student
  • Bachelor’s degrees awarded in areas of strategic emphasis
  • Percent of baccalaureate degrees awarded without excess hours

The SUS Performance-Based Funding Model allocates points to Florida’s twelve public universities based on ten efficiency, performance and student success metrics. Scores impact how much state funding each institution receives.

Learn more about UNF’s performance-based funding metrics.


Balloons with UNF logo

Congratulations to the following employees with a milestone anniversary in July:

15 Years
Susan Boyette, Coordinator, Instructional Support, Writing Center
Bethany Dibble, Assistant Director, BCH Admissions, Nursing
Daryel Gullett, Program Assistant, Special Events
Joy Magnon, Office Manager, University Police Department
John McDonough, Professor, Nurse Anesthesia
Amanda Moore, VPK Regional Facilitator, Florida Institute of Education
Wanda Scarbrough, Program Assistant, Student Health Services

10 Years
Jennifer Barth, Assistant Athletic Director, Athletic Academic Support
Brian Morgan, Assistant Athletic Director, Communications, Video Production

5 Years
Julie Van Laere, Office Manager, Childhood Education Literacy and TESOL
Katherine Thompson, Director, Web Digital Services, Marketing and Communications
Christopher Warren, Director, Student Engagement, Student Affairs

The following employees were either hired by UNF or were promoted from OPS positions recently:

Lindsay Anderson, Marketing Coordinator, Alumni Engagement
Margaret Brown, Academic Support Services Coordinator, Undergraduate Studies
Whitney Edwards, Admissions Processing Specialist, Enrollment Services Processing Office
Lauren Giliberto, Assistant Director, Special Events, University Development and Alumni Engagement
Natalie Gray, Instructional Designer, Distance Learning Fee
Eva Matthews, Coordinator Research Program Services, Public Opinion Research Lab
Melanie McLemore, Residence Life Coordinator, University Housing
Keith Nimitz, Accessible Technology Analyst, ADA Compliance
Abagail Padgett, Administrative Secretary, Psychology
Lindley Simpson, Residence Life Coordinator, University Housing
Alyssa Stubbs, Student Financial Aid Specialist, Financial Aid Office
Trinity Zamrzla, IT Systems Engineer, Systems Engineering

Great Job
The following employees were promoted recently:

Whitney Meyer, Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, President's Office
Melissa Purvis, Manager Academic Support Services, Academic Affairs

Heartfelt wishes in their new endeavors for the following employees who left UNF recently:

Michael Burton, Groundskeeper, Housing and Residence Life
Mauricio Cadena, Custodial Worker, Housing and Residence Life
Md Fahdul Wahab Chowdhury, Research Engineer, Mechanical Engineering
Terrenyce Cooper, Law Enforcement Officer, University Police Department
Stephanie Eiswerth, Assistant Athletic Coach, Women's Golf
Lauren Gibbs, Faculty Administrator, College of Education and Human Services
Daniel Knowles, Maintenance Mechanic Trainee, Maintenance and Energy Management
Candice Leek, Assistant Director, IPTM
Mar Radhakrishnan, Senior Registered Nurse, Student Health Services
Helen Shacter, Senior Applications Programmer, Enterprise Systems
Mary Smith, Office Manager, College of Arts and Sciences
Jesse Whittaker, Maintenance Mechanic, University Housing

In Memoriam:
With sadness, we announce the passing of Arthur (Ron) Nelson, Instructor in the College of Arts and Sciences. The following information was submitted by Dr. Greg Wurtz, associate professor and chair of the Physics Department:


In 1994, Arthur (Ron) Nelson retired at the rank of Lt. Commander from 20 years of service with the U.S. Navy. Prior to his Navy years, Ron received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Utah in meteorology. While in the Navy, he attended the Naval Post-Graduate School in Monterrey, California, where he received a double master's degree in meteorology and oceanography. From around 1994 to 1997, he attended University of Florida with the original intent of pursuing the Ph.D. in Geology, and while there also taught several earth science labs. He eventually decided to discontinue his Ph.D. studies, making the decision to teach the earth sciences instead. And by this time, he certainly had the credentials to do so!


In the early 2000s, Ron began teaching several Earth Science labs each week at UNF, as well as at other regional institutions. One could always hear his booming voice from down the hall, and as an ex-Naval officer, you can bet he was a commanding presence in the classroom! But his earth science knowledge was encyclopedic and highly enriched by experience, and I’m sure that the students who took his labs came out with plenty tucked under their belts. Even though Ron lived in Palatka, making for a relatively long round-trip commute to UNF, he could always be depended upon, and on many occasions was there to cover labs and lectures for the other Earth Science instructors if they were unavailable, out of town, etc., and to help new Earth Science instructors get their ground.


During the afternoon of May 11, we learned of Ron’s passing. Although he had suffered quite a few medical setbacks over the years, he always made it to class if he was able – and even sometimes when he shouldn’t have! He just loved being in that teaching environment. Quick with a laugh and a Santa-like twinkle in his eye, Ron Nelson will be missed in the Physics Department as a faculty member, a colleague, and a friend. We wish his wonderful wife, Evelyn, and his family all the best.


Read Ron Nelson's obituary online.

Faculty and Staff

UNF Fountain

College of Arts and Sciences
Art, Art History, and Design
Stephen Heywood, professor of ceramics, has an exhibit at “Westmoreland Art National,” National Juried Exhibition, Youngwood, Pennsylvania.

Jason John, assistant professor of painting, gave an artist interview with AR[T]MOIRE, an organization that strives to support artists to help them reach their full potential and to serve as a resource to connect artists around the world. Visit the website to learn more about AR[T]MOIRE. 


Dr. James Beasley, associate professor of English, published the article, “Process After Product: Electracy and Community-Based Learning,” in Textshop Experiments, May.

Dr. Chris Gabbard, professor of English, published a chapter titled “From ‘Changelings’ to ‘Libtards’: Intellectual Disability in the Eighteenth Century and Beyond,” in “The Routledge Companion to Literature and Disability,” edited by Alice Hall, May. Gabbard also published the softcover version of his memoir, “A Life Beyond Reason: A Disabled Boy and His Father’s Enlightenment,” Beacon Press, May.

Dr. Alison J. Bruey, professor of history, published “Neoliberalism in Chile” in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History (Oxford University Press), May 2020.

Philosophy and Religious Studies
Dr. Bert Koegler, professor of philosophy, published “Interests, Interpretation and Dialogue: On Renewing the Critique of Ideology” in the Spring 2020 Issue of Florida Philosophical Review.

Sociology/Anthropology and Social Work
Dr. Jenny Stuber, associate professor of sociology, published “Aspen and the American Dream” in the Spring 2020 issue of Contexts.

College of Education and Human Services
Sport Management
Dr. Jason Lee, associate professor of sport management, taught the first class to compete in “The Darlow Rules Challenge.” Since COVID-19 put a damper on in-person intensive internships for graduating seniors who relied on these experiences to prepare them for jobs, Lee teamed up with his friend Jeremy Darlow, well-known author and leading brand consultant, to create an alternative for students. Lee’s Brand Management in Sport class held this summer was the first to participate in “The Darlow Rules Challenge.” Lee’s students were divided into teams of two and three who then identified the next 30 for 30 college sports story and were tasked with developing a launch plan.

The new Executive in Residence program provides industry professionals the opportunity to come to campus and share their knowledge with our students. With this direct link to real-world industry exposure within curricular programming, UNF can bridge the divide between classes and practical field. In addition to providing students role models and mentors, the program will help them gain experience for the workplace and secure work placement opportunities. For more information on the program, visit the website.

The new Sport Data Analytics Lab is a sport-related data-analytics-focused lab within the sport management field that is housed in COHES. The lab is a one-of-a-kind place to share our data analytics expertise through partnered projects and consultations with sport-related organizations regionally, nationally and internationally. For more information on the lab, visit the website


Teaching, Learning and Curriculum
Dr. Kim Cheek
, associate professor, Science Education, Elementary Education Curriculum Area director, published “Professional Learning in Science for Teachers of the Gifted: A Focus on Science and Engineering Practices and Crosscutting Concepts” in Weber, C.L. & Novak, A. *Eds., Best Practices in Professional Learning and Teacher Preparation (Vol. 3, pp. 149-173), Waco, Texas: Prufrock Press. Also, Cheek with D.W. Cheek published “Business students meet the real world: Creative problem-solving via a complex role-playing simulation” in Hokanson, B., Clinto, G., Tawfik, A.A., Grincewicz, A., & Schmidt, M. (eds.). Educational technology beyond content: A new focus. New York: Springer. 249-259.

Dr. Elizabeth Hale, assistant professor of literacy, with James S. Kim, Harvard Graduate School of Education, published “Providing Platforms: An Examination of Low-level Questions in Informational Read Alouds” in The Elementary School Journal, June 2020 Issue.

UNF Bridges Summer Camp
COEH’s Center for Urban Education and Policy will host its second annual UNF Bridges Summer Camp. The Virtual Summer Camp will be held July 6-10 and 13-17. The Center is currently accepting applications for rising junior and senior high school students in Northeast Florida to participate in the free UNF Bridges Summer Camp as a way to help recruit future teachers of color. The evidence shows students benefit from a diverse teacher workforce.

This immersive two-week virtual summer program is an opportunity for students to explore how they can change lives and transform communities through teaching. Entirely online this year, the program includes activities led by camp counselors, guest speakers, and educator coaches. Campers will be sent personalized swag items and materials prior to the start of camp. They will receive a certificate of completion and knowledge that will prepare them for a college career. Because openings are limited, priority will be given to those students who: are rising seniors, students of diverse ethnic background, those interested in teaching and with a current GPA of 3.0 or higher. For more information on the UNF Bridges Summer Camp, visit the website.

Thomas G. Carpenter Library

Maria Atilano, student outreach librarian, co-presented the panel session “Supporting Diversity in Campus Communities with Drag Queen Story Hour” during the national ACRL Together Wherever Virtual Event, June 8.

Thomas Caswell, associate dean, contributed to “2020 Top Trends in Academic Libraries,” which is published every two years by the Association of College and Research Libraries Research Planning and Review Committee to document issues in higher education having an impact on academic libraries.

Rebecca Durney
, research services librarian, Victoria Rocanelli, access services librarian, and Susan Swiatosz, head of Special Collections and Archives, graduated July 10 from the 10-month program at the Sunshine State Library Leadership Institute.

Dr. Brent Mai, library dean, was elected to the Executive Committee of the state-wide Members Council on Library Services for a two-year term, 2020-2022.

Jennifer Murray, associate dean, published an article titled “Community Engagement: Leveraging Library Online Tools to Support Local Historical Organizations” in the June 2020 issue of College & Research Libraries (C&RL) News. Additionally, Murray and Daniel Feinberg, online learning librarian, published the article “Collaboration and Integration: Embedding the Library into Canvas” in the June issue of Information Technology and Libraries.


Four ways to stretch your grocery dollars

Bag of groceries

Chances are you’re feeling the pinch at the grocery store. You’re not alone. For most of us, soaring food prices have been difficult to swallow. In fact, prices have skyrocketed during the pandemic, with an amazing 4.1% increase in food costs in April, the largest monthly increase in nearly 50 years. The biggest culprits have been meat, poultry, fish, eggs and produce. 


What is causing these spikes? There are several reasons for increases, but overall the spikes in food costs are due to disruption in the food supply. Many meat-processing plants have closed and there also has been a shift away from food for restaurants and schools to the retail groceries. An added reason may be panic buying. We all witnessed the run on toilet paper, as one example. When will it end? No one knows for sure, but experts are saying it could take some time.

So what can consumers do? Try these steps to make your hard-earned dollars stretch a bit further in the checkout line.

  1. Make a list and stick to it or, better yet, order online. Plan you meals ahead and make a list of what foods will be needed. Ordering online will force you to make a list. This will help you save money by avoiding impulse buying and food waste.
  2. Opt for store brands over nationwide brands. Store brands are often made by the same manufacturer as the name brand, but sold at lower prices. On average, you can save 40% when buying a store brand item.
  3. Frozen foods are fantastic because they not only save you money, but last much longer than their fresh counterparts. In addition, freezing food does not reduce its nutritional value or quality. One example is salmon. Frozen salmon will save you about $6 per pound over fresh salmon!
  4. Prepare what you eat rather than buying it prepared. Most of us are saving time during the pandemic by not commuting to the office. With some of that time, try preparing more foods rather than buying already prepared foods. Instead of a prepackaged rice dish, for example, make your own jasmine rice and add in the flavoring your family likes best for only a fraction of the cost. Another example: bags of salads cost exponentially more than cutting up your own salad ingredients.

Remember, small changes make “cents” that can lead to big savings.


Submitted by Dr. Lauri Wright, assistant professor, chair and DCN co-director


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Here are a few highlights from UNF’s Athletics Department. Read all the news about our Division 1 teams on the Athletics website

North Florida OspreysMessage from Athletic Director Lee Moon about Social Injustice
"Our hearts break for our marginalized and minority groups that continue to experience racial injustice, intolerance and violence. It is our responsibility as leaders ― and more importantly as human beings ― to commit to righting past wrongs while striving to impact positive changes in our UNF and Jacksonville community as we move forward.” Read more of Lee Moon’s message online

Dubois Awarded CoSIDA Postgraduate Scholarship
Talon TalkAthletic Communications Graduate Assistant Amber Dubois was named a recipient of the 2020-21 CoSIDA Postgraduate Scholarship. Learn more about the scholarship online.


Talon Talk - Expanded Listening Platforms Available
Listeners of North Florida Athletics' Talon Talk Podcast will now have expanded listening options for the first 38 episodes of the feature-story platform. Read more about the expanded listening platforms online


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Healthcare worker with laptop

UNF joins Optimum Healthcare IT to create pathway to jobs

The University of North Florida has announced a partnership with Optimum Healthcare IT to provide a revolutionary new pathway to good healthcare IT jobs for graduating students. Though there are many jobs in electronic health records, until now there has not been a college or university that has hosted training on specific EHR platforms. Optimum Healthcare IT is launching America’s first EHR apprenticeship program hosted by UNF at the University’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in downtown Jacksonville. To read more about the apprenticeship opportunities for new and recent UNF graduates, visit our website.


Inside UNF is a monthly publication produced by UNF Marketing and Communications
Marsha Blasco, Editor
July issue contributing writers: Dr. Lauri Wright, Emily Simon and Isabel Pease