FACS Five with Dean Z
August 18, 2023

Anisa Zvonkovic, dean of the University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) reflects on her first year in this pivotal role. Here, she shares valuable insights into her experiences, the #WeAreFACS campaign, and the ambitious goals set for the college's future.

You just completed your first year as dean of FACS. What have you learned during this time?

In my first year as dean, I embarked on a journey of discovery and collaboration. During the initial months, I dedicated time to truly understand the college's vibrant community by listening to faculty, staff, and students. This invaluable period of listening and learning allowed me to identify opportunities and challenges while devising effective strategies for the future.

I deeply appreciate the wise decisions made by my predecessors, including Linda Kirk Fox, Laura Jolly, and Sharon Nickols, which have laid a strong foundation for the college's growth and success. They invested in research and in innovating academic programs toward professional employment of our graduates.  Their foresight and leadership have been instrumental in shaping FACS into what it is today.

I also must also express my gratitude to interim dean Sheri Worthy, whose efforts ensured a seamless transition when I joined the college. Her support and guidance have been pivotal in acclimating to my new role.

In addition to understanding the college's inner workings, I have been actively working on building a strong FACS leadership team. This has involved hiring two new department heads, a new director for the Student Success and Advising Center, and a new director of development. Soon, we will welcome a new alumni director, further enhancing our team's capabilities and fostering a collaborative and supportive environment.

The college recently began a #WeAreFACS campaign. What is the goal of this campaign?

The #WeAreFACS campaign aims to unite our diverse departments under a common identity, celebrating our unique strengths and accomplishments. Its focus is for students and alumni to tell their own stories directly – why they came to FACS, how FACS impacted them and their collegiate journey, and how they enact the spirit and technical skills of FACS in their work. We want our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and industry friends to take pride in FACS and champion our successes both on campus and beyond. This campaign allows us to honor our rich history while promoting the dynamic FACS of today.

What do you mean by "FACS of Today"?

"FACS of Today" reflects our college's vibrant and diverse landscape, where top-notch research happens continuously. We are experts in neuroscience, financial planning, international merchandising, culinary science, and more, making a mark in fields like dietetics, residential property management, brand management, entrepreneurship and sustainability.

Each area of specialty contributes to our overarching mission of advancing well-being, enriching lives, and strengthening communities. While there may not be a simple way to encapsulate the breadth of FACS, our collective commitment to making a positive impact on society unites us as one cohesive force driving progress and positive change.

What are your top goals as you begin year 2?

In the coming year, we have several critical goals.

Goal 1: Increase Enrollment

By increasing enrollment, FACS can attract a broader pool of talented students and expand its reach to those who may not be aware of the diverse majors and opportunities the college offers. Many students often discover FACS after enrolling at UGA, but with a proactive approach to attracting new students, FACS can tap into a wider talent pool and foster a sense of belonging from the start. A larger student body means a richer and more dynamic academic community, facilitating greater collaboration, innovation, and engagement among students from various backgrounds and interests. Additionally, increased enrollment can bolster the college's reputation and draw attention to the valuable contributions FACS makes to society.

Goal 2: Recruit and Retain Outstanding Faculty Members

Outstanding faculty members are the driving force of any successful academic institution, and recruiting and retaining top talent are vital for FACS's continued growth. We are starting a Faculty Mentor Program, using best practices to establish a network of mentors both within and outside their academic department, including the expertise of retirees, to foster the development of key components of their jobs and to provide professional development for new hires and for faculty prior to their first promotion, across all academic ranks (tenure line, clinical, lecturer). We are also launching a Faculty Leadership Fellowship program. Fellowships are offered for 2 years for faculty who apply to take on specific projects that benefit the whole college, while developing their leadership skills. By retaining outstanding faculty, FACS can ensure continuity in research excellence, teaching quality, and mentorship, creating a nurturing environment that benefits both students and colleagues.

Goal 3: Increase Private Support

Our students are the heartbeat of FACS, and we are dedicated to nurturing their dreams. With private dollars, we can offer crucial financial support to students attending conferences, presenting their research on prestigious stages, and embarking on low-paying or no-paying internships that shape their career trajectories. By providing these transformative opportunities, we empower our students to become trailblazers in their fields, armed with knowledge and experience to change the world.

Dawson Hall and the iconic "home management houses" stand as living testaments to our rich heritage. Growing the FACS Fund for Excellence will enable us to preserve these historic buildings while also enhancing their spaces to meet the demands of a modern academic environment. With state-of-the-art classrooms, laboratories, and cutting-edge technology, we can create an active learning environment that empowers our students and faculty to push the boundaries of knowledge and research.

As you look ahead to the future, what vision do you have for the College of Family and Consumer Sciences?

My vision for FACS is one of continued growth and ever-increasing impact. Together, as a talented and dedicated community, we are poised to achieve new heights of excellence in FACS. With a strong focus on increasing enrollment, recruiting and retaining outstanding faculty, and supporting our students' aspirations, we can make a lasting impact on the lives of our students and the broader community. My vision for FACS encompasses continued growth, innovation, and unwavering commitment to advancing well-being, enriching lives, and strengthening communities. #WeAreFACS