Academia / Education
Trendsetters - May 2007
Degrees: Doctorate, English, Florida State University, 1991; master's, English, FSU, 1988; bachelor's, English, Furman University, 1983.
Favorite Shakespeare: "Hamlet."
A favorite non-Shakespeare play:
Recent acting gig: With his wife, Robyn, in "Devotedly, With Dearest Love: The Letters of Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald."
Roger Casey's father was a mechanic in South Carolina. "My earliest memories are of crawling under a car with him," he says.
That may explain why as a student of literature he dwelled on the car. His writings include "The Driving Machine: Automobility and American Literature."
These days, though, Casey, 46, steers Rollins College, the Winter Park liberal arts college with 1,750 traditional undergraduates where Casey is provost, or chief academic officer. The word "provost," he jokes, "sounds like one of those drugs they give you for a disease you didn't know you had."
His prescription for Rollins has included pushing student community service, locally and internationally in places such as the Dominican Republic; overseeing the addition of 70 faculty and a lowering of faculty-student ratios to 1:10; and increasing opportunities for faculty to broaden themselves internationally by learning Spanish or visiting the Galapagos, China or elsewhere.
Change in a tenure-secure environment is notoriously difficult to pull off. Casey says the key is to plant seeds at the lowest level and be grateful for getting some of what you want, not all. He likens it to his experiences directing theater. He studied acting and directing at the Royal Shakespeare Company in England. In speeches, he's been known to rap. Casey's own driving machine is a Miata, though he owns a 1970s vintage F100 pickup and a Thunderbird.