Dr. Edythe Abdullah has joined UNF Continuing Education as the new interim dean. She previously served as special advisor to President Delaney from 2013-2015. She also served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of North Florida and chaired the Jacksonville Community Council Inc.
Dr. Abdullah earned her bachelor degrees from Valparaiso University in Indiana and holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Florida. She also has a Leadership Certificate in the Management of Lifelong Education from Harvard University. With more than 30 years of experience in higher education, it is clear where her passion lies.
Continuing Education is delighted to welcome Dr. Abdullah as our new leader. We are excited about the future and want to give you an opportunity to get to know Dr. Abdullah in the following Q&A.
Tell us about your family. I am the mother of four adult children — three boys and one daughter — and “G’ma” to three grandchildren. Shahid is in Jacksonville, Naim is in San Diego Calif., Hamin is in San Juan, Puerto Rico (with his wife, Angela and kids) and Ayesha, who just earned her Ph.D. in philosophy from Penn State University, is at UNF taking pre-med courses.
If you could choose any other career, what would it be and why? Executive director of a nonprofit organization that has as one of its goals to empower low-income kids.
What would you like to do when you retire? Learn to play the guitar, travel and volunteer as a mentor.
What is your favorite thing about working at UNF? Having the opportunity to help make a difference in the lives of young and older adults.
What is the proudest/happiest moment of your life? Being sworn in as a member of the bar 19 years after graduating from law school. I didn’t take the bar exam until 18 years after graduating due to kids and work. It was empowering to do what so many struggle to do right after law school — 19 years later.
What is the best thing you ever won? I won a gift basket for a home movie night from church. One of my favorite movies was in the gift basket — “The Best Man.” What band(s)/musician(s) would perform the soundtrack to your life? The Tedeschi Trucks Band and Marvin Sapp
Who is your favorite fictional character? What makes them your favorite? Janie Mae Crawford in “Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neal Hurston. The character travels through life’s journey to find her true essence (spirit) and realize her relationship to God.
If you won the lottery, what would do with the money? Pay off all bills, establish a trust for my kids and grandkids, tithe, set up a scholarship in my grandparents’ name, travel and volunteer.
If you were not working at UNF, what would you be doing? Advancing higher education goals at a higher education institution or higher education support entity.
Describe your favorite UNF-related memory? The numerous commencement exercises that I participated in celebrating the success of our students.
What is your favorite way to blow an hour? Kayaking
If you were asked to paint a picture about anything you wanted, what would you paint? I’d paint a picture of me with all my children/grandchildren and their spouses celebrating family on a Caribbean beach.
What was the best money you ever spent? Educating my children
Is there a piece of technology that you just couldn’t live without? Smart phone
Tell us something that would surprise people to know about you: I sang in a girls’ band in high school.
What was the first concert you ever attended, and what was the most recent concert you attended? James Brown in the Ritz Theater when I was a kid. Earth, Wind and Fire last year.
What person had the greatest impact on your life? My grandmother, Edith Hunter
What are you most passionate about? Finding ways to give kids with socioeconomic barriers tools and experiences that allow them to achieve their innate purpose.
Who is the most famous person you ever met? President Barack Obama
Tell us something about you that even your friends don’t know: I was a jazz radio DJ in college
What do you hope to accomplish that you have not done yet? Learn Spanish
Last book read: ”Still Foolin’ Them,” an autobiography of Billy Crystal Photograph: Madelyn Caranci