April 9, 2001
Service with a smile
By Eric Rangus email@example.com
A short time ago, a young law student walked into the office of Deb Floyd. This is hardly an uncommon occurrence. Floyd, the law schools associate director of student affairs, sees students all the time. They march in and out of her office like it is a MARTA train.
This student, though, had a problem and needed some positive reinforcement.
I dont know if I shouldve gone to law school,
the student said. I dont know if this was the right thing
Floyd quickly moved into motivational-speaker mode.
When you leave here with a J.D., you will have more options than
almost any other degree, she told the student. You can go
into private practice, you can go work in a firm, you can work in a political
office, you can go be a lobbyist on Capitol Hill. The possibilities are
endless. People will want you to be a director of a company or an organization.
You will have buy-in everywhere you go.
The student smiled contemplatively. Wow, I never thought about
Helping students think outside the box is how Floyd described her duties
to another visitor. You might just have to give students a little
boost, she said.
Part natural talent, part acquired skill, Floyd has the ability to see things through the eyes of others.
Not disabled herself, she is the law schools liaison to the Office
of Disability Services and has worked hard to ensure 29-year-old Gambrell
Hall is accessible to everyone.
Then, of course, there are the psyches of the law students themselves.
Floyd does not do career counseling, but students are comfortable opening
up to her about a variety of subjects. She knows practically all of the
second- and third-year students by name and interacts with them as much
as she can, chatting them up about good times and bad.
You have to read body language, she said. If you see
someone enough, and all of a sudden theyre sitting in a corner sort
of like this, she continued, hunching over like a tortoise in a
shell, its easy to go up and say, Whats going
on? If you interact with people on a personal level, they will respond.
Deb was always a comfortable face [to see], you could come in and
talk to her about anything, said Elizabeth Antonakakis, a 1998 law
school graduate who was hired as assistant dean in the law school last
June. She and Floyd now share office space. It was Floyd who helped ease
Antonakakis into the position. It was a very natural transition,
A native of Orange County, Calif., Floyd attended San Diego State, where
she graduated with a bachelors degree in womens studies. She
earned her M.S. in business from Golden Gate Univer-sity in San Francisco.
Perhaps an odd combination on the surface, but one Floyd said was ideal.
The womens studies degree taught me to think independently,
she said. The business degree taught me to work with people. So,
you think first, then youve got to translate it and make everybody
else in your group understand. [It] is always about teamwork.
After graduating from Golden Gate, Floyd joined the administration. She
eventually rose to assistant dean of arts and sciences. Her work life
was standard: Come in, get the job done, go home.
That changed when she came to Emory in 1994. Literally three months
[after starting work here], I was approached by some women here who said,
You should be in this really neat organization.
That organization was the Presidents Commission on the Status of
Women (PCSW). She immediately joined the staff concerns subcommittee,
then was elected secretary the following year. In 1999, she was chosen
to be chair-elect and served as PCSW chair this year. Her term ends with
the commissions May meeting.
You dont always choose leadership, Floyd said. It
generally chooses you. You get the feeling that this is the right thing
to do at the right time.
As chair, Floyd steered the commission to several accomplishments. Its
student concerns committee collected more than 550 cell phones for victims
of domestic violence, it worked on a comparative study of sexual assault
prevention and education, and it continued to expand dialogue with Emorys
She also helped with the initial planning for the commissions 25th
anniversary celebration, which will be observed April 26.
Floyd estimated she spent 510 hours a week working on commission
issues. Becoming involved in making the University a better place is something
every employee should think about,
The PCSW and its subcommittees are not luxury jobs, Floyd
said. You cant just put on your resume that youre a
member of the PCSW and get way with it. You need face time at meetings,
and you need butt time, if I can say that, at subcommittee
meetings. The subcommittees are where the work happens. Youre going
to have to sweat.
Perhaps its no surprise that someone with a background in womens
studies, solid credibility in campus activism believes women should make
a contribution and continue the work of trailblazing women before them.
The law school, for instance, long the exclusive realm of me, is now approximately
51 percent female.
The young women whove come through the 80s and 90s
really need to start giving back because things can go away as quickly
as they come, she said
Floyd has done her part, but come next PCSW meeting, she is moving on.
Leaving the PCSW will be both a blessing and a sorrow because its
been such an important part of my life, Floyd said. But its
not that the work wont continue to go on. I just get to play a less
Floyd will focus her efforts on the staff concerns sub-committee, where
she started. Joining a PCSW sub-committee does not require commission
membership, so Floyd, who retains her ex-officio status, plans to step
Its somebody elses turn now, Floyd said. There are fabulous people from all over this campus who will be able to do a great job.