What good are your opinions if you can’t share and discuss them?

Beginning Wednesday, June 20, columnists from around the university will start sharing their viewpoints and analyses in a weekly series called the UCF Forum.

Nine people have agreed to offer their thoughts on a rotating basis for the next 12 months on the UCF Today website.

Their backgrounds are as varied as their opinions likely will be. They are professionals from medicine, criminal justice, biology, art and other fields. A student majoring in creative writing and journalism also will offer her perspective.

The topics, which could range in scope from campus to international issues, will be chosen by the writers.

The first scheduled column, for example, is by history professor Dick Crepeau about the summer Olympic Games in London – and whether the benefits of sponsoring such a monumental event are worth the investment.

The series was organized by UCF News & Information. Each Wednesday there will be a new column posted on the UCF Today website at https://www.ucf.edu/news/.

Some columns you may agree with, others you may disagree with, and perhaps you may want to comment on some of them.

Who knows? Some columns may even change your mind.

We hope the columns at least make you think.

Here are the people you’ll be hearing from the next 12 months:

Dr. Lisa Barkley is the assistant dean for diversity and inclusion and an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Central Florida’s College of Medicine. Barkley provides leadership in developing and guiding the college’s strategy for diversity and inclusion. She is a board-certified family physician with subspecialty board certification in adolescent and sports medicine, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians. She has more than 15 years of experience in the clinical, administrative and educational spheres of medicine and higher education. Her focus is patient-centered quality care and health care education, especially for adolescent populations impacted by health disparities.

Dick Crepeau is a history professor at the University of Central Florida. A member of the UCF faculty since 1972, he specializes in 20th century U.S. history and the history of American sport. He has published extensively in both areas and for the past 20 years has written a commentary called “On Sport and Society” for the Sport Literature Association. The commentary began as a weekly feature on WUCF-FM. He currently is working on a book about the history of the National Football League. His degrees are from the University of Minnesota, Marquette University and Florida State University. He and his wife, Pat, served in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia in the 1960s.

David Houghton is an associate professor of political science at the University of Central Florida who specializes in American foreign policy and political psychology. His books include U.S. Foreign Policy and the Iran Hostage Crisis (Cambridge University Press, 2001), Political Psychology: Situations, Individuals, and Cases (Routledge, 2009) and The Decision Point (Oxford University Press, 2012). He also has published articles in numerous international academic journals. Before coming to UCF in 2003, he taught at the University of Pittsburgh and University of Essex, and he has been a visiting scholar at the Mershon Center for International Security Studies at the Ohio State University.

Alexandra Pittman is a junior at the University of Central Florida majoring in creative writing and journalism. She also is the online editor for the Central Florida Future student newspaper. She plans to pursue a master’s in creative writing and work at a book publishing house or literary agency. When not absorbed in a good book, writing or vacationing at Disney theme parks, Pittman can be found spending time with her family and friends.

Carla Poindexter is an associate professor of fine art at the University of Central Florida and a studio artist with more than 25 years of professional experience in painting and drawing. She received her BFA from the University of Texas (UTPB) and her MFA from Texas Tech University. She also studied at the University of Houston and the Alfred Glassell School of Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. She created the visual art book, The Devil at the Door, and in 2008, created and directed an animated short film in collaboration with composer Jay C. Batzner, assistant professor of music, which continues to be screened at film and music-video festivals. Her work is in private and public collections, and it has been exhibited in many commercial, educational, and public venues.

Roberto Hugh Potter is a sociologist who has been a professor and director of research partnerships in the University of Central Florida’s Department of Criminal Justice since 2008. A native of Central Florida, he earned a BA at the University of South Florida and his master’s and doctorate at the University of Florida. For the past four decades, he has conducted and applied social science research in the fields of juvenile and criminal justice, substance-abuse treatment, family welfare, public health and sexual behavior. He has also taught at the University of New England and Morehead State University, and worked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and for local and state nonprofit agencies, executive branch agencies and the Florida Supreme Court.

Denver Severt is an associate professor with the Rosen College of Hospitality Management at the University of Central Florida, where he has taught and researched service management for eight years. He is experienced in leading multiple restaurant businesses in various segments, including country clubs, fine dining and family dining. Severt has a total of more than 100 publications and presentations, keynote speeches and workshops related to service excellence, accounting, time management and leadership. His personal-service theory in the hospitality industry is what he calls “Doing Better Than That.” He grew up in Raccoon Holler, N.C., and he enjoys arranging music on the piano and singing to groups of strangers when possible.

Eileen Smith is director of the E2i Creative Studio at the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Simulation & Training. After 22 years in industry, she joined IST to explore how the spectrum of technology can be used in understanding and assessing human performance – for military situational awareness, free-choice learning, classroom performance, and physical and cognitive rehabilitation. Her research initiatives include Learning in Informal Settings in museum and urban environments, and Healthy Living, which includes recovery from military-service complications of traumatic brain injuries and PTSD, obesity and diabetes prevention in young adults, and increasing quality of life and recognition of value for long-term brain-injury survivors. 

Linda Walters has been on the biology faculty at the University of Central Florida since 1997. She also is director of the UCF Fellers House Field Research Station in Canaveral National Seashore and interim director of the UCF Women’s Research Center. Her research involves documenting human impacts on marine habitats (oyster reefs, coral reefs, mangroves, etc.) complemented with outreach and community engagement to reduce these impacts. A Pegasus Professor, she has received statewide and national awards for excellence in marine education, and Volusia County recently proclaimed “Dr. Linda Walters Day” to acknowledge her conservation efforts in the Indian River Lagoon.