Meet Dr. Ana Franco-Watkins, interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts
Dr. Ana Franco-Watkins is the interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts. She previously served as chair for the Department of Psychological Sciences, and has been on faculty at Auburn University since 2006.
She was raised in Toronto, Canada, but is originally from Terceira, Azores, and obtained her higher-education degrees in the U.S.
A decision scientist and noted scholar, Franco-Watkins brings extensive experience to the position of interim dean, including leading various initiatives and strategic planning efforts at the college and university levels. She has received external funding support from National Science Foundation, defense agencies, and Federal Aviation Administration Center of Excellence for interdisciplinary research team projects. She has taught courses in decision making, behavioral game theory, and decision making in organizations and industry.
Learn more about Franco-Watkins in our interview, below.
Q: Would you please tell us about yourself?
A: I am from Terceira, Azores, an archipelago of 9 Portuguese islands in the Atlantic. I was raised in Toronto, Canada and most of my post-graduate education was in the U.S. I arrived in Auburn in 2006 to start as an assistant professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences. Auburn University provided me with the wonderful opportunity to launch my research, teach and be involved with engaged undergraduate and graduate students, and serve my department, college, and university. I am excited that now I have the opportunity to serve our college in a broader capacity.
Q: What are your top priorities as interim dean for the next 12 months?
A: As interim dean, my top priorities include supporting students, faculty, and staff and engaging our alumni so that we continue to advance the mission of our college and position us for long-term success. These include being united in excellence to fulfill our strategic priorities:
• Provide a meaningful and comprehensive liberal arts education and experience for all students.
• Highlight high-impact practices for students such as internships, research, and study abroad and prepare students for their careers and life by engaging alumni in the process.
• Seek opportunities that will enrich our program offerings and be on the cutting-edge of education.
• Foster inclusive excellence with emphasis on access, equity, and inclusivity.
• Promote and enhance our research, scholarship, and creative works in our college.
• Recruit and retain high-caliber faculty and staff and offer professional development opportunities for continued growth.
• Re-engage and serve our local and broader community as the pandemic has made it more challenging for all.
Q: What is your favorite Auburn memory, thus far?
A: My favorite Auburn memory is participating in graduation especially when I have the opportunity to hood one of my doctoral advisees. It is special for each student and the culmination of many years of hard work. Last year, one of my doctoral students graduated in the summer. When commencement was cancelled due to the pandemic, we staged a hooding in front of Thach Hall with her family present (and all wearing masks) so that she could still experience her important milestone.
Q: Do you have a favorite Auburn tradition?
My favorite Auburn tradition is the eagle’s flight before home games.
Q: What are your favorite places to dine in Auburn?
A: My favorite places are the Depot and Acre. I enjoy local and farm to table restaurants as the menu changes with seasonal availability so they select items that are fresh at any given time.
Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
A: I enjoy reading, traveling, and spending time with my husband Larry and our dog Rocco.
Q: What three words would you use to describe Auburn University?
A: 1. Spirited: The Auburn spirit is contagious and eminent throughout the campus and community.
2. Knowledge: Providing a foundational educational experience for life-long learning.
3. Engagement: From the classroom, to hands-on experiences, to cutting-edge research, Auburn provides multiple opportunities for engagement and building relationships.