Colleges & Campus News

Q&A with Elizabeth A. Dooley

The interim provost discusses student success, inclusion and creating impact through education.

By Barbara Smith |
July 12, 2018

Dooley began her career as a public school teacher for a class of 20. Now she impacts more than 67,000 students at UCF. (Photo by Nick Leyva ’15)

Elizabeth A. Dooley has spent her career advocating that knowledge is power and everyone should have access to a quality education. And in 2015, she took a leap of faith and accepted the newly created position of vice provost for Teaching and Learning and dean of the College of Undergraduate Studies.

Now, in her third year at UCF, her passion has intensified. “We’re all in this together,” Dooley says. “We must be purposeful in our charge to uplift communities, lives and livelihoods.”

Only a few months into her most recent UCF role as interim provost, Dooley is looking at the entire university from a different vantage point.

Why did you join UCF?

It’s simple. UCF is about access and opportunity, and I wanted to be a member of the team that is transforming the way we teach, learn and conduct research. It is invigorating to be part of a university that pushes boundaries and is at the forefront of reimagining higher education in the 21stcentury. The UCF community believes that it can help solve problems, create economic impact and empower people through education.

What does impact mean to you?

“To me, education helps everyone to win — the learner and the community.”

It’s about providing everyone with the opportunity to dream big and with access to the resources to help them get there. To me, education helps everyone to win — the learner and the community. As educators, we are in the unique position to create lasting change by doing what we are passionate about — creating and sharing knowledge. It’s helping people reach their full potential by providing meaningful, value-added opportunities to everyone. We can’t be afraid to challenge the status quo.

How has creating impact shaped your career?

It’s been the driving force. My career followed a path that would enable me to create impact on a larger scale. I began my career as a public school teacher, became an educator of teachers and am now an administrator that can influence institutional transformation. As a classroom teacher, I helped prepare 20 students to succeed every year. But I knew that changes in the educational system were needed, and that would only happen at a central level. I planned to influence change from the superintendent’s office.

When I was studying for my master’s, I worked with pre-service and in-service teachers. I was preparing them to teach in classrooms across the country. It was also when I discovered my passion for higher education. A doctorate in education allowed me to add the most value, as I worked with doctoral students and professors to build an organizational structure that facilitates student success at every level. 

What initiatives are you spearheading that will impact student success?

There are initiatives underway across UCF that will enhance student and faculty success and enable the university to achieve preeminent status. An undertaking that comes to mind is the Pegasus Path, which is a collaboration with UCF’s colleges and units and is scheduled to launch in Fall 2019.

This mobile-friendly tool uses data from the myKnight Audit, mySchedule Builder and myKnight STAR to create an individualized plan that includes the recommended sequence of courses, signature academic experiences and co-curricular learning opportunities. It’s designed to help students plan, identify critical milestones and alert them to pitfalls they may encounter along the way. Armed with this information, students will customize their plans to complement their future goals and graduate on time.

What are your thoughts about diversity and inclusion?

At UCF, diversity and inclusion is not a program or initiative. It is who we are. And UCF has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a model for diversity and inclusion in higher education. Harnessing the power of our scale, we can demonstrate how diverse viewpoints fuel exceptional student outcomes, cutting-edge research and faculty excellence.

“At UCF, diversity and inclusion is not a program or initiative. It is who we are.”

We can achieve this with the help of our faculty members, who are the foundation of our educational ecosystem. It is critical that they reflect the diversity of our students and communities. This requires us to attract diverse professors, instructors and staff and provide them with professional advancement opportunities.

What do you plan to accomplish as interim provost?

I am 100 percent focused on collaborating with the entire UCF community to ensure the success of our faculty, staff and students. During my first few weeks in the role, I had the opportunity to visit UCF’s colleges. These meetings were my chance to take a deep dive into each team’s priorities, accomplishments and challenges.

Another top priority is to help keep up our momentum to achieve full preeminence status. Great things are happening, and I am confident that we will continue to be a role model for research, innovative teaching and community partnerships.