Dr. Valerie Lipscomb is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee. Dr. Lipscomb teaches British and American literature. Her current book project, Act Your Age, examines the performance of age in modern drama.
What made you come to USFSM?
I chose to move to Bradenton in 1998, so I was blessed to earn a position here after finishing my doctorate in Tampa. We have the advantages of both a small college and a research university. It’s the best of both worlds, and I’m very fortunate to be part of this faculty.
What special projects/research are you involved in?
My focus is the performance of age in modern drama. I hope to fight ageism by showing that we all act our age; it’s not a matter of young vs. old, but a socially constructed performance at any point on the age continuum, which is most obvious in the theatre. My articles have appeared in such publications as the International Journal of Ageing and Later Life and Comparative Drama, and I’ve presented at conferences from Los Angeles to the Netherlands, but my current work in progress is a book on the subject.
What other jobs have you held before this one and what were your roles?
I tell my students that I’ve explored a lot of what you can do with an English bachelor’s degree, so I’m happy to talk about career options with them, and that this is by far the best job for me. Before pursuing an academic career, I was a professional writer and editor, for a small newspaper and a public relations firm.
If you were selling USFSM to an incoming student what would you say?
I have gained a new perspective on all that USFSM has to offer, because we have two daughters at Manatee High School who are exploring college options. When we tour a private college that boasts of its small class sizes and personal attention from real professors, as well as the possibility of doing undergraduate research or an internship, I think, “USFSM has all that!” When we tour a larger university that boasts of its renowned faculty researchers and broad access to scholarly resources, I think, “USFSM has that, too!” Being a small campus that is part of a large research institution is the best of both worlds.
Also, even though we do not yet have residence halls, my students are a close-knit group. It’s rewarding for me to advise our English Society and our USFSM chapter of the Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society. I get to watch these students develop close friendships as they pursue their passions and serve the community. Facebook has been an interesting development since I began teaching college in 1994, as graduates keep in better touch with me and with each other, so I can see that students meet here and remain friends. We don’t fit that stereotype of an impersonal commuter school now, and it will just get better as we add more four-year students. If you’re ready for a real four-year college experience close to home, USFSM is ready for you.
How has USFSM made you a better professional/person?
USFSM supports my scholarly goals, enables me to make a significant contribution to the future of our growing institution, and encourages me to mentor the next generation of professionals. The best aspect of teaching at USFSM is to develop relationships with students over time, to watch them expand their horizons and hone their skills, and to feel confident that they will go on to be accomplished as well as community-minded. They deserve nothing less than my best, and I believe they feel the same way about their studies.
What are some of your goals for the future?
My short-term professional goals include publishing my book and continuing to write about age studies and literature. I am also contributing to the formation of the North American Network of Aging Studies, which encourages interdisciplinary scholarship about age and aging. Along those lines, I am excited about possible upcoming collaborations with local theatre companies and USFSM social-work faculty to study theatre about aging. The arts community is one of the main reasons we chose to live here, and the possibilities are endless for interdisciplinary endeavors.
What is the best part of USFSM?
I truly love it all.