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Ana Franco-Watkins Named Dean of College of Arts and Sciences

By Sarah Geegan

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 19, 2022) — Ana M. Franco-Watkins has been named dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, the oldest and largest college at the University of Kentucky.

Upon approval from the Board of Trustees, Franco-Watkins will join UK on July 1, 2022. Franco-Watkins currently serves as interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Auburn University.

“Ana Franco-Watkins has an impressive background as an educator, researcher and leader,” said Provost Robert S. DiPaola. “Her vision for the College of Arts and Sciences aligns with the aspirational goals of our strategic plan and our mission to advance Kentucky. We are pleased to welcome her to the UK family.”

Franco-Watkins has served as interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Auburn University since 2021. In this role, she has helped develop a shared, strategic vision for the college, oversaw a restructure and realignment of student services, expanded initiatives for inclusive excellence and successfully stewarded the college’s $68 million budget.

“I am humbled and honored to serve as dean for the foundational and pivotal College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Kentucky,” said Franco-Watkins. “This is a tremendous opportunity to partner with the UK family as we pursue a shared vision of excellence in supporting the college’s and institution’s mission.”

Before serving as interim dean, Ana Franco-Watkins was chair of the Department of Psychological Sciences for four years. She also served as graduate director of Industrial and Organizational Psychology and undergraduate director of the Department of Psychological Sciences.

She is the recipient of the Woman of Distinction Administrative Award, as well as the President’s Outstanding Collaborative Units Award. She was also a Lloyd and Sandra Nix Endowed Professor at Auburn from 2017 to 2019.

Her research focuses on behavioral economics and decision-making with applications to industry and organizations. She has received external funding support from the National Science Foundation, defense agencies and the Federal Aviation Administration Center of Excellence for transdisciplinary research team projects.

She was a first-generation student and holds a doctorate from the University of Maryland, a master’s degree from The College of William and Mary and a bachelor’s degree from St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

“I would like to also thank Interim Dean Brady for his strong leadership, as well as search committee chairs Jay Miller and Carrie Oser, all members of the search committee, and the college faculty staff and students working together through this search process,” DiPaola said. “We look forward to a bright future for the College of Arts and Sciences, and its importance to our students and impact for our campus, community and Commonwealth.”

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.