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Huckaba named interim dean of FSU College of Arts and Sciences

Sam Huckaba

Sam Huckaba, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida State University, has been named interim dean of the college to succeed Joseph Travis, who has decided to step down in order to devote more time to his research.

Florida State University Interim Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Robert Bradley announced Huckaba's appointment on July 28 after receiving Travis' resignation. Travis, an internationally regarded field biologist, has served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences — the university's oldest and largest college — since 2005.

"Dean Travis has provided steady leadership to the College of Arts and Sciences during a transformative period in the university's history, and we are grateful Sam Huckaba has agreed to take over the reins," Bradley said. "Professor Huckaba is a very experienced and measured decision maker, and we can feel confident that the college is in good hands."

The College of Arts and Sciences is composed of 18 departments ranging from biological science to religion, and 18 programs, centers and institutes. Under Travis' leadership, enrollment in the college grew about 20 percent — the biggest increase among all of the university's colleges. In fact, nearly 46 percent of all student credit hours are from courses taught in the college. The college also saw an increase in the number of both undergraduate and graduate degrees it awarded, including doctoral degrees.

Travis was innovative in expanding the college's program offerings and reach. He helped to develop the Florida Center for Research in Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (FCR-STEM) with the College of Education and Learning Systems Institute to help the state improve K-12 teaching and learning of the STEM fields. Together with College of Education Dean Marcy Driscoll, Travis also developed the FSU-Teach Program, which allows science and math majors to explore K-12 teaching careers.

In addition, the college increased its contract and grant activities and raised more than $25 million in gifts.

"Despite several rounds of compulsory budget reductions, the College of Arts and Sciences has grown and improved under Dean Travis' leadership," Bradley said. "That's important because the success of the College of Arts and Sciences is critical to the university in meeting its enrollment targets, research projections and scholarly potential."

Travis, a Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor at FSU, will return to the Department of Biological Science to teach and pursue his research in ecological genetics. A member of the faculty for 31 years, Travis has published actively throughout his career. He has written or co-written more than 100 articles in scientific journals, and in 2009, Harvard University Press published "Evolution: The First Four Billion Years," a book he co-wrote and co-edited with philosopher Michael Ruse, the Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor at FSU. In June he was presented with the prestigious 2011 E.O. Wilson Naturalist Award.

"The faculty, staff and students have accomplished so much in these past six years they have allowed me to serve them," Travis said. "It's been a pleasure to work with so many talented people, and I am grateful to have had that privilege."

As interim dean, Huckaba said he will work to ensure an effective transition.

"I am honored to have been asked to step in as interim dean," Huckaba said. "I care about the success of the College of Arts and Sciences and look forward to working hard on its behalf. During my years as associate dean, I have had the pleasure of observing the many contributions of the college's faculty, staff and students. They are what make Arts and Sciences successful, and I look forward to joining with them to move the college forward."

Huckaba began his career at Florida State as an assistant professor of mathematics in 1987 and was promoted to associate professor in 1992 and full professor in 1998. He served as associate chair for graduate studies in the mathematics department, helping the department to double its graduate program in size from 2000 until 2004, when he was named an associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Most recently serving as the senior associate dean in the college, Huckaba's responsibilities have included administrative oversight of several areas, such as the college's operating budget, departmental budget allocations, faculty recruitment, tuition waiver allocations, college-wide personnel issues, cost-sharing activity relating to faculty research, space allocations, and both graduate and undergraduate enrollment management.

Huckaba has been recognized several times for his work in the classroom at Florida State, winning a University Teaching Award in 1991 and again in 2002. He also received an Arts and Sciences Teaching Award in 1991 and a Teaching Incentive Program Award in 1994. In addition, his scholarship was recognized in 1994 when he won a Developing Scholar Award.

Huckaba has published research in the areas of commutative algebra and algebraic geometry, two classical areas of pure mathematics, and has pursued interests toward applications of algebra, including cryptography and coding theory.

Huckaba earned his master's and doctoral degrees, both in mathematics, from Purdue University, in 1983 and 1986, respectively. He earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics from the University of Missouri.

For more information, contact Interim Provost Robert Bradley at (850) 644-0797 or

By Jill Elish
28 July 2011

"Dean Travis has provided steady leadership to the College of Arts and Sciences during a transformative period in the university's history, and we are grateful Sam Huckaba has agreed to take over the reins."

Robert Bradley
Florida State University Interim Provost