UWF degree and year of graduation:
MA Teaching: Mathematics, ’76
As you look back at your days at UWF, describe your best memory.
My best memory is the advanced calculus course I took with about five other students. We were all working full-time and taking night classes to get our graduate degrees. I was teaching secondary school math in Okaloosa County, and the other students in this particular class worked at Eglin Air Force Base. They talked a lot about the first-ever tactical missile simulations they were developing at Eglin. Because of those discussions and their encouragement, I applied for a job at Eglin Air Force Base. My 30-year career with the Air Force was wonderful and would not have happened if not for that particular class and the atmosphere that the professor nurtured. Our professor made that class a good memory because he made challenging subject matter understandable and relevant, he encouraged our discussions and he was supportive of our challenging work schedules.
While you were at UWF, what did you think was its most outstanding and/or unique quality?
The classes were small and the professors were helpful and accessible. When one course I needed was not available at night and would not be offered again for a year, one of the professors volunteered to do that class with me by direct study. His extra efforts to accommodate my schedule allowed me to graduate on time. This helpfulness and support was not unusual, but rather the norm. I noted many situations in which professors went out of their way to help us get our degrees while working full-time and supporting our young families.
As you reflect, did your education at UWF have an impact on where you are today? If so, how?
The person who hired me at Eglin Air Force Base told me later that he would not have hired me with only a bachelor’s degree. He hired me for the math courses I had taken in graduate school at UWF. In those days, there were few graduate programs available in Northwest Florida, and I got into the first class that UWF offered of the program I took. So if UWF had not offered that program, and if those professors had not worked so hard to help me attain my degree in spite of my work schedule, I would not have had the fabulous 30-year career with the Air Force that has meant the world to me and my family.
Describe what you do/did professionally including the type of company you work for.
I retired from the Air Force in March of 2009. I was a member of the Senior Executive Service, and my specialties were development and acquisition of weapons and workforce development. For the last five years of my career, I was the executive director of the Air Armament Center, Eglin Air Force Base, which means I was the senior civilian. I was responsible for technology transition, weapons development and procurement, contracting, financial, program management and engineering processes and workforce development with a budget of more than $4 billion annually and a workforce of more than 20,000 military, civilian and contractor personnel.
What advice would you give students today who were looking at studying one of the disciplines in the School of Science and Engineering?
Explore all facets of the analytical process, including analyzing a situation, opportunity or problem, developing and evaluating alternative paths and preparing and delivering reports and presentations of the results—all based on the core discipline of deductive reasoning. These skills will serve you well in whatever career field you pursue as well as in your personal life.
Share one thing about yourself that would give others insight into your interests, hobbies, etc.
In addition to loving mathematics and the sheer beauty of deductive reasoning, I love painting, reading, writing and outdoor exercise. Now that I am retired, I am indulging in my passions: painting landscapes, seascapes, flowers with acrylics and watercolors, exercising each morning, reading and writing and going on vacations that include hiking mountain trails. And yes, in each of these endeavors, I still apply an analytical approach based on deductive reasoning that is as natural as breathing to me.