Profile: Barbara Barkley
From: University Currents
Date: March 29, 2000
"I know my firefighters," says this program coordinator of UC's Fire Science Technology Program.
Barkley is a 1966 graduate of Anderson High School and a 1972 graduate of UC. "UC is
home. I graduated from here. I'm proud of it."
When I'm talking to you, that's all I'm doing. I focus on you, not on you and the other
jobs on my desk. The student or whoever I'm talking to is all that exists for me.
What I'd most like people to know about where I work:
People don't realize the quality of education here at the College of Applied Science. We
have professionals who come to us from Florida and all over for an education. The Fire
Science Program is one of only six such university-based programs in the U.S. We're the
largest, most nationally prominent such program, but we're unknown locally.
She was previously a secretary for former Bengals' coach Forrest Gregg. "The funny
thing is I didn't really know how to be a secretary. I was working as a Bengals'
receptionist when there was an opening for the head coach's secretary. I asked him for
the job. He asked if I could type. I said I could learn and then took a UC typing class."
Barkley started at UC in 1985 as a secretary in the College of Applied Science and later
moved into a position as a staff assistant and finally, program coordinator. "At first, my
role at UC was just a job, but I came to truly believe what we're doing here in our
program: educating the nation's firefighters. Along the way, I learned that if you apply
yourself, great things can happen."
For Barkley, every day is different: new challenges and constant change. An hour
might consist of helping a firefighter who's been injured on the job to figure a way to
continue or resume his education. It might also mean setting up UC's residential
firefighting programs, week-long, on-site training sessions in Florida or elsewhere.
UC has about 300 students per quarter (up from 50 in the mid-1980s) enrolled in
its Fire Science Technology Program, many of them working in the field and studying via
distance learning. Thus, the volume of technical and professional questions and
problem-solving required of Barkley can be enormous. Yet, as the one person and voice
at UC that these distance learners most consistently come in contact with, she doesn't
ever seem to get hot under the collar. Her fire fighting students seem
to appreciate it, calling upon her knowledge and expertise years after they graduate...or
sometimes just calling to make sure she's still here.