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Dr. Lisa Kerr Embarking on the graduate school journey can be a challenging experience, but it helps if you understand the major players involved in that experience. The “Link to Leadership” series features Q&As with UAB's Graduate School leaders and an opportunity for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to get to know these leaders on a deeper level.

Q. Why did you accept this position within the Graduate School?

A. Three of my favorite things are:

  1. Education: Lifelong learning and the associated processes
  2. Potential: Supporting students and young professionals as they identify and then actualize their potential is fantastically fun to me
  3. Solution development: Evaluating situations and working with others to develop a creative, productive and purposeful solution

I believe this position will provide me with amazing opportunities to combine three of my favorite things at one time while working with an outstanding team of colleagues and students. In short – I think it is going to be a fun and purposeful adventure.

Q. What is your background?

A. My educational background spans Public Health, Exercise Physiology, K-12 Education and Educational Organizational Leadership and Change with a focus on Higher Education. I have held positions within various higher education environments including Associate Provost for Enrollment Management, Residence Hall Director and Assistant Provost for Undergraduate Academic Success, Curriculum Development and Instruction. Positions outside of higher education include: Director of Aquatic Therapy for Easter Seals Oregon, Youth Minister, Master Swim Team Coach and perhaps the most demanding position ever was the time I spent as a full-time mom.

Q. How long have you been in this role? What are your specific responsibilities?

A. Just starting this role in a couple of weeks – excited to see how it unfolds.

Q. What drew you to this particular area of work?

A. As expressed above, I absolutely love potential – it is one of my favorites. This past semester teaching the GRD 616/746 course on Critical Thinking was an amazing experience. Collaborating with the Dean, and others in the Graduate School, to develop additional opportunities to expand and advance how UAB can contribute to and support the greater Birmingham community is energizing to me. Combining my passion for teaching, collaborating and implementing meaningful experiences that foster personal and professional development for others simply sounds like an ideal position for me at this point in my career.

Q. If you were talking with a group of incoming UAB students, what would you most want them to know about you and your hopes for their experience at the Graduate School?

A. I hope that all students recognize the privilege it is to be affiliated with UAB and I encourage them to take time to:
* Network – authentically connect with peers, faculty, and staff in manners that serve to both support and challenge their professional development
* Identify their values – know what is important to you and why – these are what keep you motivated through it all

Q. Can you talk about your own approach to teaching and how it has or has not informed your work in your current Graduate School position

A. My teaching philosophy is grounded in student development theory and public health behavior change theory. I believe in the power of support with equal doses of the challenge. I firmly believe in the growth mindset, the power of reflection and the importance of purpose. Learning how to learn is as valuable as what we learn, especially in a time when the data, technology, and experiences that inform our practices are dynamic and evolving at unprecedented paces.

Q. Tell me about the Critical Thinking course that you’ll be teaching in the spring.

A. This course will provide you with an opportunity to practice skills associated with critical thinking processes that are integral to your ability to engage in quality scientific research, leadership and mentoring processes. This course is designed to facilitate an interdisciplinary environment in which we will discuss and reflect on what goes into making critical decisions.

Q. What influences have shaped you?

A. As a “trailing spouse” whose husband served in the Middle East, I have great respect for the importance of flexibility as well as a strong belief that all things happen for a reason.

Q. What do you like to do for fun?

A. I love hiking and traveling. Time outdoors, in the woods, near a stream, preferably with my husband and kids, the best place for me.

Q. Tell me a bit about your family.

A. I’ve been married for 21 years. I have two kids, one a senior at Booker T. Washington in Montgomery and a ninth-grader at Alabama School of Fine Arts studying Theatre Arts. We do not have pets.

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