OEDE staff are based on campus and in downtown Pensacola
Rick Harper, Ph.D., Associate Vice President
Rick Harper's career as an economist began in 1979 at the Research Triangle Institute in North Carolina, where he was involved in all phases of various funded research projects. Rick received his Ph.D. in Economics from Duke University in 1989 and joined the UWF faculty that same year. He received his bachelor's degree from Guilford College in North Carolina.
Prior to coming to UWF, Rick lectured at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Other academic experience includes visiting appointments at ESSCA, in Angers, France, the University of Nottingham, England and University College, Cork, Ireland. His published scholarly research is largely in the area of government policy and its effect on the business environment.
Through UWF's Haas Center for Business Research and Economic Development, where he served as director, Rick worked with Florida businesses and government leaders on a variety of business research and economic development issues. He represented Northwest Florida on Governor Jeb Bush's Council of Economic Advisors from 2001 - 2006. He now serves as director of UWF's Office of Economic Development and Engagement.
Phyllis Pooley, MBA, JD, Director, Special Projects
Phyllis K. Pooley has lived in the Pensacola area since 1997. Originally from Virginia, she attended the College of William and Mary as an undergraduate and Washington and Lee University School of Law for her juris doctor degree. She received her MBA from the University of West Florida in 2001. Dr. Pooley began her career at UWF with the Haas Center as a graduate student assistant and was promoted to associate director in 2004. She joined the OEDE in 2011 where she has been a director since 2014.
Brice Harris, Ph.D., Assistant Vice President
Dr. Brice Harris was appointed Assistant Vice President for Research and Economic Opportunity in July 2015. Previously at UWF, Dr. Harris held the titles of Associate Director and, later, Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Office of Economic Development and Engagement. Dr. Harris began his employment with UWF as a Consultant to the Haas Center for Business Research and Economic Development, and later served as Co-Director of that center.
A Pensacola native, Dr. Harris’ career to date has centered on military, economic, and political affairs, and includes periods of service in federal and state government, as well as in the private sector. Dr. Harris completed tours of service as a Presidential Management Fellow in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. He has also worked as a private contractor to OSD and the U.S. Marine Corps Command & Staff College, and as a consultant to two separate federal contracting entities. Additionally, Dr. Harris has served as Defense & Space Coordinator in the Executive Office of the Governor of Florida. In that capacity, he was responsible for managing a portfolio of strategic programs, projects, and activities related to Florida’s aerospace and defense industries. Previously, Dr. Harris served as the Chief Operations Officer of a stage one technology company formed to commercialize a software suite developed by the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition.
Dr. Harris holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Florida (1999); an M.S. in Defense & Strategic Studies from Missouri State University (2001); and a Ph.D. in Politics & International Relations from the University of Reading in the United Kingdom (2007).
Donovan C. Chau, Ph.D., Director, Strategy and Engagement
Dr. Donovan C. Chau was appointed Associate Director of OEDE in 2014. His career began a decade earlier in Washington, DC, where he was a professional staff member for the Select Committee on Homeland in the U.S. House of Representatives. During this time, he helped the Committee gain permanency and worked on border and transportation issues.
Upon leaving Congress, Dr. Chau was a subject matter expert for AMTI, a defense and homeland security contractor which was subsequently purchased by SAIC. Dr. Chau was the Africa desk officer, focusing on terrorist threats in and emanating from the continent of Africa. He provided research, analysis, and policy support to defense and homeland security contracts at the federal, state, and local levels.
In 2007, Dr. Chau entered academia as an assistant professor of political science, later promoted to associate, at California State University, San Bernardino. His teaching and research specialized on international politics in East Asia and Africa as well as national and international security. Dr. Chau has published multiple books, journal articles, monographs, book chapters, and book reviews.
Between 1996 and 2005, Dr. Chau earned a B.A. in literature/government from Claremont McKenna College, an M.S. in defense and strategic studies from Missouri State University, and a Ph.D. in politics and international relations from the University of Reading, United Kingdom.
Jeff Cassady, JD, Assistant Director, Communications
Mr. Cassady joined the Haas Center as special projects coordinator in November 2014. A Northwest Florida native, Mr. Cassady came to the Haas Center from the newspaper industry, where he held reporting and editing positions with publications such as the Pensacola News Journal and the Marietta (Georgia) Daily Journal. Most recently, he covered the tourism and retail industries for The Daytona Beach News-Journal and its monthly business publication, the Volusia-Flagler Business Report.
Mr. Cassady attended the University of West Florida, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in communication arts/journalism with a minor in economic policy in 2005. In 2011, he earned a law degree from Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, Florida.
Angela Sanders, BS, Research Coordinator
Angela Sanders received a BS in History from the University of Montevallo in 2005. Before joining OEDE as a research coordinator, Angela worked in the customer service industry as an agent supervisor for Convergent USA. At OEDE, Angela provides administrative support and is the primary contact for CREO.