Dean candidate wants interaction

Christina Thomas

Greg Lanier has taught various genres of literature ranging from Shakespeare and Tolkien to “Star Wars.”

“I still teach that kind of a genre on occasion because I think there is an awful lot in (“Star Wars”) that I think is a cornerstone of how we think and understand about our own culture,” he said.

The associate dean of Arts and Sciences for honors and interdisciplinary studies at the University of West Florida is one of the five candidates running for the honors dean position.

Q: What interested you in applying for the honors dean position?

A: I was nominated by a couple of colleagues of mine, and I was flattered when I found out what it was they nominated me for, which was the college that Larry Andrews had been head of for years. That’s enticing, to be able to come and pick up the college that Larry has done so much to build and done such a great job with. When I found out about it I thought this was an opportunity to follow in Larry’s footsteps and thought it was something I ought to pursue.

Q: What is your educational/work experience?

A: I got my doctorate from the University of Michigan. I’m a bit of a text and stage guy because I do work in both theater and in Shakespearean studies. I’ve also worked a lot on Sam Shepard. I’ve chaired both the English department and the theater department and I’ve been the director of the Honors program at West Florida for nine years.

Q: What experience from your career will benefit you as an honors dean?

A: An experience I would like to bring here from West Florida is that we have had really good interaction with the students. We have a very strong and active student core and I’ve worked with the Honors Council of West Florida. It has been fun to work with them on leadership, and every year we take a weekend long retreat where we do leadership training. It was a lot of fun, but it was also a great bonding experience and it has been great for leadership of that group to do that every year.

Q: What are your plans/goals if you are appointed the position?

A: I would like to see a sense of a true mission or true focus for the Honors College, an idea of ways it enhances your undergraduate experience. I would like to create more interactive active student involvement in the Honors College.

Q: As a dean, students look to you for guidance. What advice could you give to a student who is preparing for his or her future?

A: I would ask the student, “Where do you see yourself in five years from now?” and ask them how is it what they’re doing now will make them successful. Also, what kinds of things do they think are still going to be important to them that has been given to them by the Honors College.

Q: Do you have any spare-time hobbies?

A: I’m a builder. I’m probably one of the very few people still left on the planet who has actually built his entire house by himself with his own hands. I like tools, and I like to collect them. The other thing I like to do is build model railroads.

Q: Did you have a mentor or someone who inspired you growing up?

A: My mom. My father died when I was 13 and we had a very rough time. I was the third in a family of four children, and when my father passed away it was a very difficult time, but my mother was an amazing woman and managed to rally and bring everybody forward. All of her children graduated from college and got degrees, and that’s an amazing accomplishment because she was on her own.

Contact Honors College reporter Christina Thomas at [email protected].