I imagined that my first few months of being a dean would encompass a series of dessert parties (savory and sweet). Why? Because who does not love dessert? I imagined I would spend a lot of time introducing each of you to my family and them to you. Here are some of the things that I would tell you:
Toby is my husband; we have been married for 22 years (I checked with him and he confirmed this to be true, as I frequently forget the number). We met in Iowa City, a week or so before I started the doctoral program at University of Iowa. Toby is an engineer by trade and formerly worked at Procter & Gamble. He retired from P&G a few months after our eldest, Zoe, was born, to stay at home with her and eventually with our son, Eli. Currently, Toby is a couples and family therapist and an executive coach. He is originally from Charleston, where his extended family lives, but he grew up in Charlotte.
Related to his therapy practice, Toby hosts a radio show, “Paradigm: Insights into Relationships and You” (it is also a podcast) that is syndicated in Atlanta, Denver, Cincinnati, and soon Fairfax, VA. He teaches in the College of Agriculture at the University of Kentucky. Outside of work, Toby enjoys playing golf; he has a single-digit handicap, but is not a snob about it, as he plays the course, not the members of the foursome. He also volunteers in a reading program at a local elementary school and serves on a few philanthropic boards.
Zoe is 16 and is a rising senior. There are several interesting things to share about her. She has a loving heart and is one of the most civic-minded teenagers that I know. She spends a lot of her time working with an organization called the Prichard Committee Student Voice Team, which is an advocacy group for K-12 students in Kentucky. She started and is the executive producer of their podcast called “Get Schooled.” Zoe also did a TEDx Youth (hour 4; minute 32) talk in January that was pretty amazing.
Zoe is spending her summer working with Civics Unplugged, developing a diversity, equity, and inclusion training for teens and launching Civics 2030, a 10-year campaign to mobilize funds and support to encourage GenZ-ers to spearhead projects that strengthen American democracy. Through the Kentucky YMCA, she is working with other teens to advocate to reduce the poll worker age to 16. Perhaps most importantly, she is waiting for the driver’s license office to open up since it closed down back in March, the day before she was scheduled to take her driving test and get her license.
Eli is our youngest. He is 14 and a rising sophomore. He is enamored with video games, fantasy novels, skateboarding, and rollerblading. He is a true reflection of his generation, as he has increased his engagement with friends exponentially since sheltering in place began in March. Last summer, he built his first computer, which supports his gaming and virtual reality activities. Eli is passionate about animation and spends hours drawing and illustrating on paper, an iPad, and in Blender. He is a skilled chicken wing chef who enjoys telling jokes, making up entertaining stories, and having a good time.
As a family (read: Toby and I), we love to entertain, and it is an all-hands-on deck affair. Toby usually is responsible for the protein (sous vide or grilled), I make the desserts, and we share the sides.
As we have lived a few places, we tend to pick up and carry forward things from the cities where we have lived. From Iowa City—food co-ops and outdoor concerts—St. Louis—Cardinals baseball (we were in the stands for the final game of the World Series)—Nashville—a wider variety of music—Lexington—bike rides through the Bluegrass. Now that we are relocating to Virginia, I look forward to learning about and experiencing things that are unique to this region.
Maybe I’ll run into some of you along the way. I greatly look forward to a time when we can discuss the past, present, and future of the Commerce School over some cheesecake, panna cotta, chocolate cake, or homemade ice cream. Take your pick!