With bittersweet sentiments, OURCA announces that Professor Anna Leahy, PhD. will be stepping down as OURCA Director, effective at the start of Spring 2018. Though we are saddened to be losing her as a creative and innovative force at the helm of our offices, we share in her excitement as Dr. Leahy moves on to pursue other passionate opportunities.
Dr. Leahy began her service as OURCA Director in Fall 2014, joining Dr. Christopher Kim as OURCA Co-Director to facilitate a smooth transition. Since then, Dr. Leahy has been an integral source of change and growth, developing our office to be the fertile ground for knowledge, inquiry, and creation that OURCA is known for today. Reflecting on her tenure as director, Dr. Leahy emphasizes, “OURCA encourages ambitious students across all disciplines, and it’s incredibly rewarding to be a part of that. Student Research Day and SURF Commencement are my favorite parts because those events celebrate student accomplishments. Though, of course, it’s hard work as well, OURCA has been a positive experience through and through.”
As an author and a poet, Dr. Leahy recognizes the significance of academic inquiry in the form of creative activity. She acknowledges, “It’s important to include the arts and humanities–students and faculty in Dodge, COPA, and Wilkinson–when we think about knowledge creation here.” This belief in the power of knowledge creation lead Dr. Leahy to her first big decision as OURCA Director, “to add ‘creative activity’ to the office name so that OUR became OURCA, pronounced like the whale.” Under Dr. Leahy’s direction OURCA has grown to encourage research and creative activity in the arts and humanities, beyond the typical scope of scientific research that is often predominantly encouraged in academia.
“OURCA continues to grow and change, and I’m happy to have been a part of that,” says Leahy. Of the recent transformations at OURCA, Dr. Leahy happily notes the development of the OURCA Ambassador program, and even the blog stories highlighting events and student work here at Chapman University. She attributes this consistent growth to her successful collaboration with Coordinator Lisa Kendrick, working together “to hone existing programs and develop new opportunities.”
When asked to highlight her favorite OURCA program she has been involved in during her time as director, Leahy admits, “I’m not one to pick favorites when it’s all good.” Her genuine investment and excitement for the opportunities at OURCA is palpable in her smile at each event. She says, “Each program meets a somewhat different need. It’s exciting that Travel Grants fund students presenting at conferences, it’s important that the 291/491/682 coursework and Scholarly/Creative Activity Grants support the work that makes that possible, it’s thrilling to see SURF students evolve over eight weeks, and it’s fun to see how many students take advantage of Lunch with a Professor.”
So, what is next for Dr. Anna Leahy? Though Dr. Leahy will be undoubtedly missed here at OURCA, we cannot mask our excitement for her next step. Leahy shares, “One of the reasons I’m stepping down from OURCA is the opportunity to direct the MFA in Creative Writing, which has come into its own as one of Chapman University’s strongest graduate programs, and to help build graduate student culture. As I readjust my time, I’m also writing poems again, doing the sort of creative activity that connects with my teaching.”
As Dr. Leahy steps down, we welcome with great enthusiasm Dr. Julye Bidmead as Director of OURCA. During Fall 2017, Leahy and Bidmead served as Co-Directors, demonstrating skilled collaboration and preparing the office for a fluid shift in gears. Leahy leaves OURCA with a vote of confidence for the years to come: “OURCA is in fantastic hands with Director Julye Bidmead, so OURCA’s future is looking good.”
We offer Dr. Anna Leahy immense thanks and gratitude for her time and service at OURCA, wishing her joy and success in all her endeavors!