Vice Provost juggles career, family life

Barbara Wilson, vice provost for academic affairs, said she has always had to juggle family life and work.

When she took the position she holds today, her schedule became even more hectic.

Wilson started at the University in 2000 as a professor in speech communication— now communication— and within a year became head of the department.

After seven years, Wilson came to the provost’s office, where she has been working for one year.

She said despite working for University administration in the wake of sweeping personnel changes— from the Board of Trustees to the president and chancellor’s offices — her job has not become any more difficult in the past year.

“I think we’ve got a great team here,” Wilson said. “I feel really good about the people I work with.”

Wilson said it is the external factors rather than the internal factors that have been the most difficult part of her job.

“We have a very challenging financial situation in front of us and trying to plan for this and think about our future, you know, in a way that continues to protect what we care about here – the core missions of the University – it’s a very challenging set of circumstances,” she said.

Another challenge that Wilson, along with many other working women, faces is maintaining a balance between her career and her life at home.

Wilson said that becoming vice provost for academic affairs meant more time spent in the office, more events to attend in the evenings and less flexibility in her schedule.

Wilson has two daughters and a husband who works full time as a professor of communication, and said it is hard juggling time at home, at work and doing research.

She said her husband, John Lammers, is very helpful and started managing more things at home after she took her current position. She added that part of the reason she is able to manage her current job is because her daughters are ages 12 and 14.

“If they were younger, this would be a very difficult job. I don’t think I could do it,” Wilson said.

Dale Brashers, department head of communication, said Wilson is able to maintain a balance between work and life at home.

“Being an administrator is a huge job and requires a lot of time and energy, and she still seems to manage to balance her family life and be an active parent for her children, which is pretty amazing,” he said. “Barb is considered to be one of the best administrators on campus – she is smart, energetic, and fair.”

Brashers said he worked with Wilson at the University of California at Santa Barbara, as well as in the department of communication when she was the department head and he was the associate head.

Wilson said she does not believe that the expectations for men and women in administration positions are different and anyone trying to balance a career and family life faces challenges.

“I think every professional feels those struggles,” she said.

Debbie Kemphues, administrative assistant to the provost, said Wilson is very good about setting boundaries and not allowing her work life to spill over into her family life.

Kemphues, who worked with Wilson in the department of speech communication and now works with Wilson at the provost’s office, recalls a time when Wilson rescheduled an important meeting when one of her daughters called needing a ride.

“She talks about her family a lot and you can tell it’s a big proirity to her,” said Kempues. “She’s been actually a wonderful role model for balancing family and work life.”