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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.

Barbara Barkley
Working philosophy:
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.


  • 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."

  • 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.

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