After hours with FAU’s new president

1 Sep

You’ve probably heard Mary Jane Saunders speak about science, research, and her goals for transforming the school into a more traditional university. But what you don’t know about FAU’s new president might surprise you: She loves Lady Gaga and Shark Week, and she’s in dire need of a recommendation for a good local Cuban restaurant.

FAU President Mary Jane Saunders

FAU President Mary Jane Saunders. (Photo: Michele Boyet)

Before becoming FAU’s sixth president, Mary Jane Saunders was provost and senior vice president of academic affairs at Cleveland State University in Ohio. Prior to that, she was the director of CSU’s Biomedical Health Institute and the founding dean of the College of Science, CSU’s second-largest college.

Before CSU, Saunders was a program officer and deputy division director at the government-funded National Science Foundation, director of the Institute of Biomolecular Science at the University of South Florida, and an assistant professor in the botany department at Louisiana State University.

FAU’s second female president earned her Ph.D. in botany from the University of Massachusetts and did her postdoctoral work through a science program at the University of Georgia.

And in her free time? Well…

HOW DOES SHE UNWIND?
“In my free time I really love to read novels and mysteries.” Saunders likes to read regional literature: “I read many novels in Cleveland that were about the area and I started reading Florida-based authors like Carl Hiaasen and Randy Wayne White.”

HER FAVORITE BOOKS?
Might be yours. “I’ve asked all the staff and faculty to send me the books they have written. I read all the staff’s literature when I was in Cleveland and plan to do the same at FAU.”

FAVORITE RESTAURANT:
Annavicenzo’s Italian restaurant (1930 NE 5th Ave). “I also really love Rocco’s Tacos. There’s just a great atmosphere and energy in there.” But, “I’m still looking for a good Cuban restaurant, I love Cuban food. I could use some suggestions.”

FAVORITE TV SHOW:
Project Runway. “I just love seeing the creations. My mother made clothes for me and my three sisters when we were younger, so I can appreciate how hard it is to do.” Also: MythBusters and Shark Week.

MOVIES:
“The last movie I saw with my husband was Date Night. We were laughing until we cried.” But her favorite movie: “I don’t want to date myself, but I love The Big Chill. Brings back great memories of my friends in graduate school.”

MOST EMBARRASSING CD SHE OWNS:
“I hate to admit this, but I have Cher’s greatest hits album. But it’s still wrapped in the plastic!” Also: “I love Lady Gaga. Now she’s sort of a general phenomenon, but I believe I discovered her a long time ago. I think she is so talented and creative, and her music is fun.”

FAVORITE SPOT ON CAMPUS:
“I love going to the food court in the Breezeway and meeting students. I do some table-hopping and visit all the student organizations in the Breezeway.” Also: “The Jaffe Center for Books Arts in the library is just a treasure. I’ve never seen anything like it on another campus.”

FAVORITE ROOM IN THE BALDWIN HOUSE:
“Actually, in my closet there is a wall for shoes – I’ve never had anything like it before and I love it. The Baldwin House is beautiful, but I love my shoe wall.” How many shoes? “I will not disclose how many shoes I own, but I will say there are only a few spots left.”

HOW SHE’S REDECORATING HER OFFICE:
Saunders wants to add your art. “I want to showcase student and faculty art on the walls. It’s important to celebrate the accomplishments of our scholars.”

See this week’s issue: Issue 4, Volume 1

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One Response to “After hours with FAU’s new president”

  1. Jon September 1, 2010 at 1:21 pm #

    Dr. Saunders ought to wander on over to the Cuban Cafe on NW Boca Raton Blvd. between 20th & 40th Streets. It’s a pretty darned good lunch place.

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