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UF/IFAS names Irani family, youth and community sciences chairwoman

Tracy Irani

UF/IFAS Professor Tracy Irani has been named as the new chairwoman of the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A 15-year UF/IFAS faculty member and administrator has been named chairwoman of the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Tracy Irani’s appointment is effective April 11, said Jack Payne, senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources at UF. Irani has been running the department on an interim basis since Oct. 1.

Before this appointment, Irani worked simultaneously as a professor in the UF/IFAS Department of Agricultural Education and Communication and director of the UF/IFAS Center for Public Issues Education (PIE). She will leave her PIE center appointment to work full-time as the leader of family, youth and community sciences, Payne said.

“We are fortunate to have such an excellent administrator and successful faculty member providing leadership to this important UF/IFAS department,” he said.

Irani took over as interim chairwoman after Elizabeth Bolton served in the same capacity for about 1½ years. Before Bolton, Nayda Torres served as the department’s chairwoman from 1997 until her retirement.

Irani earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and communications from what then known as Point Park College (now Point Park University) and a master’s in corporate communications from Duquesne University, both in Pittsburgh. She then earned her doctorate in mass communication from the University of Florida.

She joined the UF/IFAS faculty in 1999 as an assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural Education and Communication. She was promoted to associate professor in 2005, graduate coordinator in 2006 and then to professor and development director for the PIE center in 2009.

Among her academic accomplishments, Irani has published more than 70 refereed journal articles and book chapters. She has taught undergraduate courses in campaign strategies and advanced agricultural communication production as well as graduate courses in methodology of planned change and theories and strategies for agriculture and natural resources.

Irani directs 24 full-time faculty members who research such diverse topics as youth and community development, nonprofit leadership, program evaluation, family dynamics and financial management, food safety and quality, healthy lifestyles and home-energy efficiency.

The department’s top priority will be developing academic programs, especially at the doctoral level, Irani said.

“We have a large undergraduate program, with more than 450 majors, which is great,” she said. “We want to continue to provide excellent undergraduate education, while actively trying to grow our graduate program. We are working on a proposal for a Ph.D. program, which would help fill a need for future faculty in programs like ours at land-grant institutions to teach, conduct extension programs and do research on improving family, youth and community well-being and resilience in urban and rural settings.”

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By Brad Buck, 352-294-3303, bradbuck@ufl.edu

Sources: Tracy Irani, 352-273-2588, irani@ufl.edu

Jack Payne, 352-392-1971, jackpayne@ufl.edu